The ‘Nightmare’ of a Tweeting President
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The ‘Nightmare’ of a Tweeting President

The idea of a tweeting president would have been a Madisonian dystopia. Madison said in Federalist Ten that direct communication between representatives and their constituents was an evil to be avoided because it could hasten mob rule. Think of the president’s tweets. And this is not just President Trump; President Obama was the first tweeting president. Insulting people, putting them down, angrily denouncing them. The American founders Madison and Hamilton fear that mobs, or factions as they call them, were mobilized when they’re animated by passion rather than reason. And to the degree that social media technology makes it possible to have instant polls and to aggregate mobilized minorities or majorities Why were the founders afraid of mob rule? First of all, they blamed it for the fall of Athens. They thought that once the Athenian assembly of five thousand people deliberated face-to-face They were misled by silver tongue demagogues – demagogues means speaking to the people. The framers are concerned that mobs will elect populist demagogues who will threaten liberty. And as a result they set up the entire American system to avoid the rise of demagogues who will appeal directly to the people’s passion. But instead disperse power among the presidency, Congress, the courts, and between the federal government and the states so that reason rather than passion can prevail. Now, it is quite obvious today that so many of the cooling mechanisms that the framers put into place have dissipated. Perhaps the most dramatic cause of polarization and exacerbater of faction is social media. Passionate arguments are more likely to be shared on social media than those based on reason. The central solution that the framers saw to the problem of mob rule was education. Civic education. Madison says, And the astonishing resources of the net, which you’re now enjoying to watch this riveting video, allow all of us to use our moments of leisure to educate ourselves about the Constitution, to dig in deep and read Supreme Court opinions rather than sharing fake news or amusing ourselves with cat videos but instead made slowly so that lots of people can listen to lots of different arguments that they might agree or disagree with, and we can make a considered, reasonable judgment.


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