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Saving Democracy From Villains, Vandals, and Ourselves

by Bob Garfield

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64009-280-8
Publisher: Counterpoint

The Peabody Award–winning co-host of public radio’s On the Media offers his take on how to make America great again despite Donald Trump and his enablers.

Garfield’s (Bedfellows, 2012, etc.) manifesto stands out from those already published partly because of the specific proposals but mostly because of the breezy, often glib tone. Some readers will appreciate the irreverence as they digest the proposed solutions while others will find the tone jarring in the context of the serious subject matter. Before reaching the solutions portion of the manifesto, the author takes a stab at how the mess occurred. His primary culprit is the “well-intentioned multiculturalism” espoused by progressive, liberal citizens. Garfield suggests that the emphasis on personal identity has damaged our sense of common cause, atomized society, and, most significantly, led to a vicious backlash among millions of citizens who voted Donald Trump into office and gave Republican Party faux patriots control of Congress. The antagonism between belief systems became so toxic, Garfield argues, that in some respects, the nation has become a fascist state. The author also places blame on mainstream media moguls and their newsroom functionaries. Without vigorous journalism that can be trusted to disseminate accurate, fair reports, the current national crisis shows few signs of abating. As Garfield rightly points out, the respectable, trustworthy journalists who remain are too few and scattered to serve as an effective watchdog on government and corporate waste, fraud, and abuse. So-called digital journalists, writes Garfield, often spread lies and find receptive audiences among consumers who don’t do their homework. The author also offers some proposed solutions, including vastly improved, significantly more responsible journalism. “We can hold our heads in despair,” writes Garfield, “or we can repair what has been put asunder. Wishful thinking, you say? Pollyanna, you say? Totally fucking delusional, you say? No. It can be done.”

An interesting manifesto that will incite debate, including whether it is overly simplistic and/or impractical.