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The threats to democracy arguments are so overblown. We're about to have a huge election. There is no literal threat to democracy. Hmmm...it must be some kind of metaphor.

So what do people mean when they say this? The NPR piece says Smith suggests "the Internet giants will cannibalize the very fabric of this country". This metaphor seems hyperbolic as well. To use "cannibalize" means that something will eat itself. So, they Internet giants are the fabric of the country and they will eat the fabric. Something is missing there.

The next paragraph then negatively describes Smith's regret of his previous calls for deregulation. This seems firmly unrelated to democracy, as all forms of government have regulation, and regularly adjust regulation to get better effects. However, it does seem related to the power of government over organizations such as Microsoft. Is the "threat to democracy" really meant to indicate the loss of the power of the government over individuals relative to increases of power of other organizations?

"For one, he argues, it's time to reform the U.S. law that says Internet platforms are not liable for just about any of the content running through their pipes" This would dismantle the Internet. Did he forget to read https://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Six-Words-That-Created-Interne... ? It would force your ISP to become a censor. It's the complete opposite of the idea of moving power towards an elected government and away from corporations.

Anyway, I was worried for a bit reading the headline, but it looks like our elected government is safe for the time being and this is just more hyperbolic bullshit.

Elections are only a small part of democracy. Things like free speech and privacy are also very important components of a functioning democracy.

I thought the basic definition of a democracy was a government where the members are voted on by the general population?

More generally, democracy means rule by the people. It's possible to allow the population to vote without actually giving it any power. Eg.

- If the elected government punishes people who voted the wrong way once it gets in power, then it's not really a democracy.

- If the elected government doesn't have any real power, and all the important decisions are made by warlords or corporate heads, then it is not really a democracy.

- If your boss can stand behind you while you cast your ballot to make sure you vote the right way, under threat of being fired, it's not really a democracy.

- If the only information you have on which to base your vote is the official state-run news, then it's not really a democracy.

- If all the government's power is concentrated in one person, who is elected for life, it's not really a democracy.

> There is no literal threat to democracy.

What would you consider a threat to democracy?

New limitations on which candidates can run for election.

New limitations on which citizens can vote.

Interference with the vote collecting and counting processes.

Not respecting the outcome of an election.

Those would all be threats to democracy. What isn't a threat is Google, Facebook and Amazon trying to guess which ads you'll click on.

Overt and covert censorship. Training ML models with ideological biases. Covert subversion of the concept of justice. Weaponization of cultural symbols. Promotion of histeria and false allegations to increase cultural subversion.


> We're about to have a huge election. There is no literal threat to democracy

Elections may be necessary to democracy, they are not sufficient. Most authoritarian states have elections, too.

Democracy is not there one day and gone the next, it is eroded over time.


Trump (and the presidency in general) is used as a distraction. Its also probably the only legitimate election that happens - its the only one that the candidates are thoroughly scrutinized by the voters and whose platforms, personalities, etc are laid bare in a way most people actually doing the voting are able to comprehend.

Senators and governors might be in a very distant second and third place for legitimate scrutiny by the electorate, house representatives in fourth, maybe in some very rare circumstances someone pays attention to state house or senate races, and maybe you care about your mayor once every other decade.

Every other race is simply pay to win. You pay the most, get the most ads in front of constituents faces, and get yourself political power for as long as you can afford to keep it. The voting public does not have the patience, time, or willpower to scrutinize a dozen+ races per election cycle in a way paramount to preserving the institutional integrity of the government. Its why people are always so pessimistic about government solving problems - they really aren't practically electing the people writing the laws or testing their legitimacy. You vote for judges on paper, but in aggregate the elected judge is almost always the one with the most donors.

Its all intentional and structural, of course. It helps preserves the two party duopoly and lowers the cost of buying legislation for private interests. If voters only had one person to elect whose job it then was to do all the other appointments and elections they would otherwise do, but whom the electorate scrutinizes as much as the president and whose conduct is all over their personal media feeds every day, we might actually have something reminiscent of the will of the people showing up in government again.

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