What follows is most likely a self-indulgent rant, and may reveal a level of narcissism that not even its author will be comfortable with (a discomfort similar to ending a sentence with a preposition, perhaps).
I want my words to matter. Actually, I think what I want is more than that; I want my ideas to matter, and I want the words that elucidate those ideas to matter. I will stop short of saying that I want my words and ideas to create change; I would be happy to merely contribute meaningfully to a debate, even if no direct action comes from said debate. I believe in the power of discourse—both written and spoken—and I want my thoughts to be a part of meaningful discourse.
I actually do not think that this want of mine is unique. I have a hunch that everyone shares this same want. It may even be a need. If I could posit something bolder, I would say that it may underlie the adoption of democracy in the Western world, even in cases where it very clearly lacks the tendency to make swift and effective decisions for mutual benefit. This may be because the benefit of being heard, of having your words mean something, outweighs the “mutual benefit” of a top-down decision made by the state. It may be that there just is no way to justify ignoring the need that people have to be part of the discourse, no matter what the supposed benefit.
Let’s assume all this is the case. Let’s assume that the underlying need to have one’s words and ideas matter is to be respected—perhaps at any cost. Let’s also assume that democratic governance at one time fulfilled this need (for most, and at least in theory). Is that need fulfilled today by mere representative democracy? Is the impoverished family in the big city, living 10 to a home, see a direct route for their ideas to flow to the public discourse? Does the single mother working 2 jobs and ensuring her kids can do their extracurricular activities have a clear sense that her ideas have a place in our national debate? I get a sense that the answer is “no.” I don’t think, though, that this answer is a negative one because of any kind of intentional oppression or conspiratorial silencing. I think this type of thing happens when people go about private affairs, expand, grow, and keep the state apparatus mostly the same. More specifically, I think that the more media outlets there are, the more people feel that need to be heard, because in a way, the conversation is going on loudly, and without them.
All of the above is why I think that our focus needs to shift a bit, in the media, in political activities, and even in daily life. Our interactions should center less around just trying to get policies made and get change through the halls of power. We ought to be focusing on ensuring that there is a real feeling of inclusion amoung the polity. The rest, I think, will come organically after that. But what do I know? As you can see, this writing isn’t published anywhere but here, and who will really see it? I guess I at least have my words here now; if only I could find a way to make them matter…