Generally speaking, it’s not our fellow Americans who are the problem. It’s the leaders — or, rather, the misleaders — desperately trying to keep Americans in a state of outrage and divisiveness for the purpose of ratings, money and power. I call the whole thing misleadership.
When they actually sit down and talk, Americans realize that they have most things in common. When they allow themselves to be immersed in their tribal echo chambers, however, they get the impression that the “others” are nothing like them.
We need to abandon our echo chambers and give up our outrage. The echo chambers are, I believe, typically nurtured by bad people who don’t give a damn about us. That is at the heart of today’s misleadership. The misleaders only want our fury, the path to their power.
We Used to Know What Demagogues Looked Like
We used to know true demagogues when we saw them. But we are out of the habit in the U.S. The Americans who fought for liberty in the middle of the 20th century got a clear look at the dangers of misleadership in the form Adolph Hitler and others.
But who watches those old German black-and-white news clips anymore? How many Americans could even pick Joseph McCarthy or George Wallace of of a lineup?
We are no longer afraid of the “strong men” who gain their power by feeding on the unreasoning outrage of their followers. We have lost our immunity. As never before in recent history, our immune system has a very tough time fighting off the deadly demagogue virus. We are deeply vulnerable as a result. And so is our democracy.
Featured image: Filter Bubble Graphic by Evbestie. An echo chamber is "an environment where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own." This echo chamber (yellow circle) is closed and insulated from rebuttal (8 arrows).