President Barack Obama argued on Tuesday during his farewell speech that America’s “retreat” into partisan “bubbles” represents a new “threat to our democracy.”
“For too many of us,” Obama said, “it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.”
The president continued: “The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste — all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.”
Obama said that, “increasingly,” people “become so secure” in their bubbles that they “accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”
“This trend represents a third threat to our democracy,” he declared.
Obama noted politics “is a battle of ideas” and explained that he believes debate is healthy for the Republic.
“But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible,” the president said.
Obama has a history of skewering partisan news organisations, such as conservative talk radio and outlets like Fox News.
At his year-end press conference in December 2016, for instance, he characterised such media outlets as “domestic propagandists” for supposedly making voters vulnerable to fake news disseminated by foreign governments.
During the December news conference, Obama argued the nation “better think about how to make sure that our political process, our political dialogue, is stronger than it’s been.”
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