Someone once said, “In a true democracy, people get the government they deserve.” I think of this line when people complain about our elected representatives. We would probably have better government with electoral reform. Getting rid of Super PACs would be a good start. However, despite the bias created in politics and the media by the influence of the most wealthy, the fact is that the internet has made it easier than ever in history to gain access to alternative political perspectives, and to determine the facts relevant to any politician’s claims. (I realize that some people don’t have home internet access, but households without internet connectivity are now a minority, and they will often have access at their local library. The percentage of households that do have internet access is enough to swing any election in US history.) I subscribe to http://thinkprogress.org, a news blog with a moderately left-of-center perspective. As a professional philosopher, I also regularly read http://leiterreports.typepad.com.
Here are some other sites that represent “alternatives” to the “mainstream media,” all of which I came up from a quick internet search. (I’m not endorsing any of them in particular, because I don’t follow them; I’m just letting you know that they are out there.)
- http://zcommunications.org/zmag (This blog looks like it is a bit to the left of what I regularly read.)
- http://axisoflogic.com/ (“Axis of Logic staff come from a rich variety of professional backgrounds and life-experiences. All are published authors. All are social and political activists in one form or another. We represent a cross-section of disciplines including homemakers, economists, writers, psychologists, IT professionals, military veterans, former clergy, health care professionals, educators, lawyers and labor leaders. Several of us are entrepreneurs, owning or having owned our own businesses, employing others. … Our purpose is to promote peace, equality, human rights and the right to self determination for all nations throughout the world.”)
- http://www.corpwatch.org/ (“Non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. We work to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations. We seek to expose multinational corporations that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses, and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.”)
- http://www.neweconomics.org/ (New Economics Foundation “was founded in 1986 by the leaders of The Other Economic Summit [TOES] which forced issues such as international debt onto the agenda of the G7 and G8 summits. We are unique in combining rigorous analysis and policy debate with practical solutions on the ground, often run and designed with the help of local people. We also create new ways of measuring progress towards increased well-being and environmental sustainability.”)
- http://www.wsws.org/ (“The World Socialist Web Site is published by the International Committee of the Fourth International, the leadership of the world socialist movement, the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938.”)
- And, of course: http://www.aljazeera.com/
So there are plenty of sources for “alternative” views that are easily available to most Americans. (In contrast, when I was my kids’ ages, I was curious to read what people with radically different political views thought, but had not access to anything at my local library or bookstore.) This all leads to a slightly depressing conclusion: most people have views in line with the mainstream of the Democratic and Republican parties (which, as we know, are often not to far away from each other), because that is what they choose to believe, not because the “corporate media” brainwashes them. Most people want to hear a simple, reassuring story about how the world works that makes minimal demands on them ethically or intellectually. If they feel they are facing serious problems, they want easy-to-understand solutions that sound like they will work quickly.