October 20, 2018

MARTY KAPLAN: The Best of All Possible Americas

Whenever I’m comforted by the genius of our Founders, the resilience of our institutions and the wisdom of the American people, I know my meds need adjusting.

James Madison famously explained in Federalist 51 that because men by nature are not angels, the Constitution distributes power among the branches and levels of government via the ingenious checks and balances that protect individuals from the tyranny of despots and the injustice of majorities.

” title=”intimidated” target=”_blank”>intimidated by right-wing pressure groups and their media enablers that the job of fact-finding has been replaced by the grotesque practice of “balancing” charges with countercharges.  Are Sarah Palin’s “death panels” fact or fiction?  Our press says, “Here are both sides – you’re on your own, kid.”  Afraid of bad names like “lamestream” and “liberal,” our news media, rather than treating Andrew Breitbart like Lee Atwater – a partisan propagandist and smear-merchant – instead amplified his lies about Shirley Sherrod and turned what should have been a story about how easily knaves can play the press for fools into a story about the Obama Administration’s fear of Glenn Beck.

I wish a focus on facts could fix this.  But there’s something scary about how humans are hardwired, and it was driven home by studies led by University of Michigan political scientist ” title=”his report” target=”_blank”>his report:  “When Corrections Fail:  The persistence of political misperceptions.”  The bleak subtitle of Joe Keohane’s ” title=”martyk@jewishjournal.com” target=”_blank”>martyk@jewishjournal.com.