So what’s missing in political discourse in the early twenty-first century? Some say it’s the corner saloon where patrons could freely debate (and drink, with moderation of course), and hopefully form well-reasoned political opinions about most everything. If the historians are right, this is how our fore-fathers, probably not mothers, were able to form political identities and voting blocs. What a simpler time it was, and I am not suggesting that Americans were more politically astute back then, but let’s just reminisce a bit and look at where we are now.
Jon Grinspan writes: “Beinging back the saloon will not solve America’s problems. And there are, of course, major substance abuse concerns today. But the point of the saloon was never the lager. It was the shared institution. Today it often feels as if the only shared spaces are big-box checkout lines and fast-food parking lots. What we need, more than tweets or memes, is the kind of civic life that transpires when men and women gather face to face and, as a fan of old saloons put it, ‘political matters ebb and flow as froth on the beer’.”
Technology obviously plays a bigger role today, and we all get to choose what news stories we want to find, believe, or just make up (see blog of November 23). And contrary to the title of this block, I don’t really think drinking will help us make better political choices .