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The Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press…

Beyond the press, balancing civil liberties and human rights for everyone was clearly on the minds of our founders.

They put their ideas about what America could become in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

From what they wrote, they simply had to know they were leaving slavery and inequality for others to deal with.

They established values they thought would prevent future autocrats from destroying their grand experiment.

And there also was no way they could ever have anticipated the Internet, television, and social media.

We therefore recently have become overwhelmed by an unanticipated misinformation environment.

As a result, journalists must now leave behind traditional issues reporting practices… and focus only on finding and reporting truth and facts. America always has been a work in progress, and now journalists have a new role to play.

Too many voices get lost in the new media swamp.

Biden’s priority to eliminate COVID is fine, but other issues are requiring immediate action.

Simple talking points should be prepared on voter laws, the border, guns, infrastructure, climate, and democracy.

Every democrat in the nation should use them as news headlines appear each day.

The most urgent talking points should be shouted daily from the White House on multiple media platforms.

Democrats need a billionaire-funded super PAC to add intensity.

Texas democrats mean well…but to be effective they simply must practice “talking-point discipline.”

Media revolutions changed the game, and the opposition is winning. It’s long past time for the Democrats to join the social media shaped world and get “talking point” disciplined, focused, and tough!

In his 2016 campaign, without a strategy or plan, Trump fell back on his past practice of attacking adversaries.

The reality show host simply stumbled into using cruel remarks to entertain people attending his rallies.

He quickly found that his bold remarks would produce news headlines, and live cable TV coverage would follow.

He also found that yelling “build a border wall” and “make America great again” would bring a rousing applause.

Twitter rants and mean-spirited attacks resulted in daily news headlines and increased visibility.

Ideology lost its political appeal, extremists took over, and social media became their weapons of choice

Eventually, attacking adversaries became the best pathway to power.

Voting these extremists out of office now seems to be the only sure way to save democracy

Both parties have been far too partisan for far too long.

Democrats are split between too many single-minded liberals and middle-of-the-road centrists.

Republicans are too focused on their ” I’m in it for me” primary election survival.

The possibility of a dictatorship is not frightening enough for far too many Americans.

There seems to be a widespread almost paralyzing fear of Trump’s most extreme supporters.

There is too much easy rejection of environmental science and the clear evidence supporting climate change.

There is too little appreciation of the precious individual freedom promises of a democracy.

The ‘what’s in it for me” culture needs to end, and we need to get back to the “it’s really about us” culture.

Bipartisan governance will very likely need to wait for a total House and Senate political housecleaning.

All this is to say… we need to make sure we elect a democracy-committed and science-supporting presidential candidate in 2024!

Almost no-one, BUT...

Most potential autocrats were first elected because of citizen dissatisfaction with government… or as the result of a carefully controlled election.

Dismayed citizens usually respond supportively to sincere-sounding promises for a more prosperous life.

Once in office, potential autocrats quickly demonstrate obvious lifelong “self-serving” behaviors.

They weaken, and sometimes even completely dismantle, government and nongovernment institutions… including the courts.

Some supporters, and especially close associates, see advantages for themselves and become loyalists.

Others climb onboard with conspiracy ideas, cultist inclinations, and personal control goals of their own.

Apathetic and exhausted citizens decide to accept the situation… rationalizing that their private lives are not likely to change that much.

If elected again, or if an orchestrated coup is successful, driven autocrats inevitably become dictators. As a result, anything resembling a democracy is then totally lost. Sadly, America seems to be drifting in that direction.

In our polarized and lies-infested world, journalism should return to a focus on finding facts and providing context.

Reporters should see news conferences as opportunities to give readers, viewers and listeners the context they need to understanding the situation… not simply to find a headline.

TV organizations should return to focusing on the news. Commercial temptations are causing producers to celebrate celebrity and celebrities, create endless commercial breaks, shorten too many important stories, and increase the overall speed of everything. Morning and evening news programs have become exhausting for everyone.

Too many newscasts now rely on dramatically edited crime, shootings, extremist statements, and crisis headlines to grab an audience and hold it well into the program. Competition is usually what drives these decisions.

Journalists must become less worried about career and commercial success… and more broadly about democracy and what saving one requires of them.

National identities are replacing political ideologies around the world.

Beware… extreme nationalism elsewhere has led to autocracy and dictatorships.

Then, conspiracies and lies overtake truth and facts.

Freedom of speech is lost, and a free press becomes the designated enemy.

And in our country, white people and party extremists are already beginning to fear a loss of control.

But most important right now is simply for our President to clarify “what it truly means to be an American.” More than anything this is what the world needs from us… and what it will take to save our democracy.

I have written many times about the role mayors and city managers of major cities were playing in international relationship-building. But I never heard the term “subnational diplomacy” until I watched a Brookings Institution webinar on the topic.

Featured was the mayor of Dallas, Texas. His role was to champion “new initiatives” cities are taking to develop international relationships. Called “subnational diplomacy,” he and other city leaders are seeking to increase support from the state department in Washington.

The Dallas mayor, and his top level advisory group, see clear economic and other advantages resulting from better international relationships. He and other webinar participating mayors refer to the large number of businesses in their areas with expanding international interests. They talked about international interests and activities going on at local schools, universities, arts organizations, and nonprofits. They point out that such coordination could very well result in more young people seeking international careers… possibly even becoming American diplomats.

What is seen as new, is often something old, but revitalized with new passion and leadership. World Affairs Councils in Dallas and other cities have been involving their international businesses, university experts, and many other groups in their international activities. Since the 1950’s Sister City organizations all over the U.S. have been building international relationships between cities around the world. And some large city mayors and leaders are also seen as experts in international terrorism, because the seeds of anarchy have been sown in their neighborhoods, and these cities are where the violence has occurred.

I agree that it often takes a new slogan and new passions to modernize familiar practices. So I will support “subnational diplomacy” wherever it is happening… even though the term is not very inspiring! After all, the more people and groups involved in international relationship-building the better! And saving our democracy needs this right now.

Bipartisan is the only way to govern a democracy, however, it is abundantly clear that with this legislature bipartisanship is impossible.

Presidential messaging must now aggressively promote the total program that is best for a democracy… and be relentless everyday in stating what is destructive about current partisan behaviors.

Controlling messaging in our new social media world requires shouting out everyday on all available platforms, and constant repetition using simple, memorable phrases.

It’s time for the President to get very aggressive and courageous about explaining clearly what is wrong, what is factual. and why. In other words, it’s time to forget all bipartisan hopes and get tough!

History doesn’t always repeat itself… but issues and values often linger, and echo.

  1. Abraham Lincoln tried to eliminate slavery, but white supremacy continued to echo in American culture.
  2. It still resides deep in the subconscious minds of many who consider themselves accepting of all races.
  3. And it surfaces in unexpected ways… such as when minorities appear to get special treatment at work… or when a black family moves into a white neighborhood… or when white voters simply allow submerged feelings to surface when voting.
  4. Admittedly, some very dangerous groups have always believed that white culture is superior.
  5. Therefore, the founders’ dream of equality can only be realized if true patriots continue to champion democracy and equal justice.

It seems clear that the founders knew all along that they would need to rely on future leaders to make “liberty and justice for all” a reality. Saving the American democratic system must therefore be our top priority.