Dewey claims “that the capacity of the wise few to discern the public interest tends to be distorted by their position.” In other words, some of the economic elite has skewed perceptions toward public issues because of their elite occupation. For example, after 206 billion gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf, instead of taking responsibility, BP blamed the rig owner and cement contractor.
Dewey also reminds us that democracy is not just a form of government, but also a wide range of social relationships. With the emergence of online communication, social relationships have extended beyond face-to-face interaction. Citizens can voice their opinion regarding political issues using social networking sites and blogs. They no longer are restricted by the fallacies of print journalism. This also informs politicians what issues citizens think are most important. Perhaps this is why some non-democratic countries forbid their citizens from having Internet access. That way the government dictates what issues are more important than others.
One of Dewey’s central theme’s was the rejection of a ‘spectator theory’. This theory revolves around observing an independent object that dictates the direction of your society. It’s obvious why Dewey rejects this theory, A. more involvement from citizens generates a higher rate of inquiry and B. more involvement keeps the independent object (government) in check. Online journalism is an outlet and opportunity for citizens to be involved and not a spectator.
Before the emergence of online journalism, citizens were in a more observing state. They didn’t have an internet outlet which let them propose inquiries and keep independent objects in check. The emergence of online journalism and social networking cites has altered how politicians conduct their campaigns. When Barrack Obama ran for president in 2008, he created BarrackObama.com, which lets citizens voice their opinion regarding his political agenda. By giving citizens power to voice their opinion, he put them in a non observatory position. This also resulted in popularity, citizens liked how they could have a say in important public matters.
Dewey claims that democracy is not just a property of political institutions but a wide range of social relationships. He believes this notion should take industrial, civil and political forms. These are very ambitious claims because, as he admits, a large portion of our society does not possess the high level of education needed in order to challenge politicians and other elite positions. Therefore, our society unfortunately will continue to be viewed as political institutions as opposed to social relationships. Another problem with Dewey’s claim is that he doesn’t take into account how many different political agenda’s there are amongst citizens. The majority of the United States population is either a democrat or republican. What about people that are independent or support the green party? These people are often overlooked because the other parties outmatch them in size. In order for our society to be viewed as social spheres instead of political institutions, their needs to be a greater respect for those parties with less leverage and size.