Would we know what public discussion looked like if it occurred right in front of our faces?
I don’t have the answer. But we have a great example in front of our eyes right now.
Many theories have been advanced and new ones continually emerge. This is public discussion.
Some theories see these as two separate developments. Others see it having the same source in public antagonism toward established politics. I tend to side with the two sided phenomenon, but I would willingly accede to a single source.
We have seen many theories advanced. A rejection of the mass media bias. A rejection of the blocked Congressional - Executive process. A static economy. A malaise associated with the state of jobs and middle income stasis. A building discontent with the whole political process. A widespread sense that the government lies to the public.
This is a small sample of the theories now in the public domain. Nothing exactly like this has happened before. So public discussion should be expected.
I see some coalescing around a few of these theories and I see some being discarded. To me, a genuine deep dissatisfaction with the Congress -Executive would lead to a discussion of replacing Congress with a random legislature. I haven’t seen that yet.
I haven’t seen a connection made between the powerful Tea Party movement and Donald Trump, nor the feeble Occupy Wall Street and the Bernie Sanders campaign. But there must be one.
Lastly, I am pressed by the lack of original ideas by public intellectuals on this startling period and I still expect that to happen.
We have a real ‘public discussion’ going on now. It is time to learn how it works and how it leads to the emergence of new perspectives.