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“We live in a world where constructive conversation is next to impossible." -Andrew Lam [Photo Credit: Will Hauge]

Democracy and the Game of Thrones

By Kaity Hauge-Aldridge, Official JLF@Boulder Blogger

In his opening statement on Saturday afternoon’s panel on the American political climate, writer Andrew Lam described the ridiculousness of being forced to un-friend people on Facebook. Our massively polarized political climate has created a digital echo chamber, where individuals loudly espouse unfiltered opinions, reject contradictory arguments, and filter information input

based upon preconceived notions and opinions. In the face of brazen hatred which is politically and even racially motivated, Lam has had to remove people from his digital living room simply because their opinions differ from his own. “We live in a world where constructive conversation is next to impossible,” Lam commented. Anonymity in a digital space begets aggressive conversations which would never take place were people speaking around a dining room table together.

Lam and his fellow panel members, Ruchira Gupta and Matt Appelbaum, discussed at length the inherent strength of democracy from a variety of perspectives. From an immigrant, to a human rights activist from India, to a local politician, each shared their own unique perspective on the power of a democratic system to unite disparate viewpoints, ignite local and global change, and give voice to the marginalized. The discussion was overshadowed with the overwhelming sense of foreboding that any discussion of today’s political climate generally presents. The fear of the loss of democracy in the face of the rise of a new breed of fascism tinged each note of the conversation, becoming more and more forthright as the discussion continued. The entire panel seemed to the audience, a microcosm of the general state of affairs in America today. Yet it also inspired hope. If such a disparate group of people can be brought together under one roof to share their viewpoints with a real audience, not a distant and digital one, and have a constructive conversation with the aim of igniting a shift in the present course of politics, then perhaps the same can be done across the country.

 

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