I spend a lot of time and energy promoting informed civic participation.
The problem is, informed participation requires accurate information. With the possible exception of loudmouth pundits on television and talk radio, I think we are all pretty weary of the fact-free slugfest that has replaced reasoned political debate. It has become a tired truism, but the ability of citizens to access credible information about our governing institutions is critical to our ability to engage in self-government.
Inadequate media coverage of local government is bad enough. When we can’t even rely on the accuracy of the information that is provided, either by local government officials or what’s left of our local media, how are citizens supposed to make informed decisions?
State government has reportedly been “cooking the books” over job creation figures for some time. The City-County Council recently had to subpoena the Mayor’s office to get information about a public document—a lease—that should have been a public record. And now—stunningly—we are told that the 30 million dollar deficit that threatened the viability of IPS and the jobs of hundreds of teachers, the looming 30 million dollar deficit that justified so many questionable decisions, never existed.
Think about that.
A while back, I posted about students who defended their disengagement from political life by saying they simply didn’t believe anything they read—that they considered it all to be spin and disinformation, and since they didn’t trust either the media or government to tell them what was really going on, they felt justified in opting out.
These days, it’s pretty hard to argue with that. And that doesn’t bode well for our American Experiment.