What would John Dewey think of America today? Quite specifically, Dewey outlined some key components of a Democracy in his piece Creative Democracy. Components that may seem like a stretch in our society now. Eighty years have passed since John Dewey wrote Creative Democracy, while he also was at the age of eighty, and what can America show for it? World War II, Korea and Vietnam Wars, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, many changes in how the government functioned have changed the perspectives and outlooks of Americans. Advancing technologies have completely changed the pace of the country and how it functions from day to day.
Many changes have been for the better. Medical advancements are savings many more individuals, while new technology is making the world a cleaner place. Acceptance and tolerance are themes that can be found anywhere… But in contrast to Dewey’s claims- has America advanced for the best?
“Intolerance, abuse, calling of names because of differences of opinion about religion or politics or business, as well as because of differences of race, color, wealth or degree of culture are treason to the democratic way of life.”
“A genuinely democratic faith in peace is faith in the possibility of conducting disputes, controversies and conflicts as cooperative undertakings in which both parties learn by giving the other a chance to express itself, instead of having one party conquer by forceful suppression of the other”
Unfortunately, while many positive changes have occurred, many negative changes have as well. The polarization of political parties in America has created a heightened new climate that makes it difficult for work to get accomplished. In this political climate BOTH parties are guilty of intolerance and abuse directed at the other, what Dewey refers to as “treason to the democratic way of life”. Neither party is looking for an opportunity to give the other a chance, making it difficult to move forward. Senator Marco Rubio explains this exact issue here, showing just how recognizable the issue is that politicians feel the need to voice it. Try looking at 2:50-4:15.
Advancements in technology, specifically social media have accelerated these issues. Instead of discussing these issues face to face with one another, many individuals are behind a screen discussing issues- thus making it easier to become frustrated and not see the others point of view. Additionally, for many young Americans, social media provides a very legitimate news source. While some sources may be better than others, the majority are biased to one side or the other, and do not offer just the facts. Facebook specifically looks at what you are watching and records that history in order to show you similar articles/posts that perpetuate what the reader already believes.
All Americans need to open up to one another and stop putting down each other’s views. Until this happens, we will continue to see these similar issues that are plaguing our democracy, making it nearly impossible to take a step forward.