In the “the more they stay the same” category, Jamelle Bouie, writing in his March 11 NYT Opinion piece, quotes from de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America:
“It often happens in democratic countries that many men who have the desire or the need to associate cannot do it, because all being very small and lost in the crowd, they do not see each other and do not know where to find each other. Up comes a newspaper that exposes to their view the sentiment or the idea that had been presented to each of them simultaneously but separately. All are immediately directed toward that light, and those wandering spirits who had long sought each other in the shadows finally meet each other and unite.”
And now I’ll quote Bouie himself, as he decries the decline in local news coverage that he believes contributes further to the undermining of American democratic institutions:
“One of the most striking aspects of the modern information environment, as many people have observed, is the almost total collapse of local and even regional news outlets. Where once every town or city of even minor consequence had a newspaper — with reporters who helped the community understand itself through their work — now there are large parts of the country that exist in news deserts, where there is little coverage of anything, from local government to local events.
I think that this decline has played an important role in undermining America’s democratic institutions, as well as the public’s faith in democracy. It’s not just that the collapse of local news has made it harder to hold any number of public officials accountable — contributing to general cynicism about the ability of government to do anything constructive — but that Americans increasingly lack the information they need to participate in the political process in their communities.”