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Can The Internet Save Democracy?

by Jane Susskind, published

Al Gore Democracy

In an interview with BBC News, former Vice President Al Gore spoke on the deteriorating nature of American democracy. Alluding to the 2010 Citizens United decision, he cited big money from anonymous donors as one of the key factors threatening representative democracy.

Arguing that the United States has lost sight of the democracy our founding fathers envisioned, he told BBC's Jon Sopel "our democracy has been hacked," reminding us once more that we are living in an increasingly digital era.

In order to restore our democracy, he continues, "we have to restore the proper functioning of the conversation of democracy so that ideas and logic and reason once again have some significance and cannot be trumped by big money from anonymous donors."

One way to improve the conversation of democracy is by using the Internet:

"We see individual bloggers having an impact on policy debates. We see fact-checking taking place on the internet that actually does change the way issues are dealt with. Television is still the dominant medium, but particularly with young people the internet is growing by leaps and bounds and I think soon will justify the optimism that individuals empowered by this new communications infrastructure will be able to reclaim their birthrights as free citizens and redeem the promise of representative democracy."

Open access to information not only gives activists the opportunity to fact check, but it allows for the spread of information at a much higher rate than in the past. With the majority of our future generation logging on, the Internet holds the potential to mobilize young citizens to action. Through the use of social media, people can demand change through grassroots movements and online campaigns.

Do you believe that the Internet can restore democracy in America?

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