We the People are more informed than ever about the affairs of our government, and we are able to access that information and opinions from various sources in quasi-real time, too.
And it's due in large part to technology and the internet. As a result, technology is preventing the well oiled spin machines of government officials and their allies in the media from keeping the truth from public view. At least they can't keep it from us for long.
We the People can now access the news anytime and anyplace, including the various blogs. In that regard, technology is a great enabler for free discussion and truth seeking, and it's also posing a serious threat to politics as usual and the often cheerleading media on both sides of the argument.
Yes, the times they are changing, and that's a good thing --- a very good thing, in fact.
Big Government Loses Control tells a great story about our system of self governance and the use of technology to improve how our government functions:
"What to make of the political scandals that are dominating the headlines and
forcing the Obama administration into Nixonian damage control? Technology is
finally doing to big government what it has done to big business, big media and
other institutions that once could operate with nearly full control over
information. The government is losing the ability to manipulate information to
Consider how the news broke that the Internal Revenue Service has been
targeting conservative groups. The admission by IRS official Lois Lerner came in
response to a question from the audience at a low-profile meeting of the tax
section of the American Bar Association. For a week, perplexed reporters quoted
her supporters saying she was apolitical and must not have meant to make news
Then reports online cited lawyers who had been at the ABA event saying they
saw her consult prepared remarks as she answered the supposedly impromptu
question. On Friday, the acting IRS commissioner confessed to Congress that the
question was planted. Its purpose was to give Ms. Lerner a chance to minimize
IRS wrongdoing before the release of the Treasury inspector general's report
early last week.
The attempt to spin the story worked for a time. Ms. Lerner blamed everything
on low-level IRS employees in the Cincinnati office and said that the targeting
of conservative groups ended when higher-ups learned about it. But as targeted
groups went online to reveal the communications they had received from numerous
IRS offices, it became clear that abuses were widespread, including at
headquarters, and that the targeting went on for years.
There is a long history of presidents using the IRS against political
enemies. FDR went after newspapers that opposed the New Deal. JFK had his
Ideological Organizations Audit Project target conservative groups like the
American Enterprise Institute. Richard Nixon used the IRS to harass people on
his enemies list.
Most of these abuses came to light only after the presidents left office.
President Obama has to deal with the issue now because tea party and other
groups used social media to share information about their experiences with the
Details also emerged this month about the Obama administration's efforts to
spin last year's Benghazi attack. The White House was forced to release 100
pages of emails showing how "talking points" about the attack were edited to
exclude references to al Qaeda. That set the stage for Mr. Obama and
then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to spend two weeks falsely blaming an
The emails detailed a dozen changes to the talking points, including
eliminating a key CIA observation from the original draft: "We do know that
Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in this attack." The
emails disclosed how Mrs. Clinton's spokesman Victoria Nuland successfully
lobbied to excise earlier CIA warnings of terrorism in Benghazi. She emailed
that this "could be used by Members [of Congress] to beat the State Department
for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that?
Just as old media learned it is no longer the only voice heard in a new-media
world, government spinners now must reckon that the truth will eventually come
out—sometimes because the government is pressured to disclose damning internal
The third scandal dogging the Obama administration also has its roots in
trying to downplay terrorist threats. The Associated Press reported in May 2012
that the CIA had stopped another attempt by an al Qaeda group in Yemen to have
an underwear bomber blow up a U.S. passenger airplane. That contradicted
administration claims that there were no known terror threats. A federal
prosecutor trying to find the source of the leak seized phone records of dozens
of AP editors and reporters from a two-month period last year, ignoring Justice
Department guidelines that the AP at least be told in advance that the
government is trolling its records.
As the nation's chief executive, President Obama is accountable for the IRS,
State Department and Justice Department. His longtime adviser David Axelrod last
week blamed a too-big government for the scandals: "Part of being president is
that there's so much beneath you that you can't know because the government is
Messrs. Obama and Axelrod helped create that problem, but the argument
against big government rings especially true in an era when not even the
government can control information."
Freedom of speech and technology make for a powerful force in "real time" democracy.
Maybe limited government will get another chance in America. Let's hope so.
Now all we need for that to happen is a properly informed and skeptical citizenry willing to look objectively at the facts and opinions presented as the "truth" by the political spin masters of both parties.
Then perhaps many more of us, if not all, will come to the realization that it's up to each of us to see through the fiction of a self serving set of government officials and bureaucrats in our search to find the truth.
In other words, the truth will set us free but only if we first take the time and opportunity to pursue it on its own merits, wherever that may lead. Technology is making that search for the truth both easier and faster, too.
But first we have to decide it's worth making the effort.
That's my apolitical take.