Join me for this free 90-minute class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about the increasing weaponization of our public discourse – and about steps we can each take today to rebuild democracy in America.

I’m Dr. Jennifer Mercieca, author of Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism at Texas A&M University. I write about American political discourse, especially as it relates to democracy.

I hope you can join me for my upcoming class, Five Things I’ve Learned about America – from 30 Years Studying Communication and Democracy. During this 90-minute session, I’ll explain why “democratic deliberation” in our public sphere is essential to a functioning democracy and why our First Amendment had to be first on our Bill of Rights. Our rights to a free press and to petition, assemble, and speak freely are each necessary for a properly functioning public sphere—and government. Of course, our public sphere has never functioned perfectly, but the kind of communication that currently dominates our public sphere is the opposite of democratic deliberation. In fact, it’s neither democratic nor deliberation—it’s using communication as a weapon.

Specifically, I’ll talk about these five things I’ve learned about the increasing weaponization of communication in our democracy:

1. Why using communication as a weapon is the new normal in our public sphere.

2. Why and how weaponized communication threatens our democracy (and why that’s the point!).

3. We have two different propaganda models, neither of which helps the cause of democracy.

4. We can strengthen our democracy by using persuasion instead of propaganda.

5. Possible solutions, including ten things we can all do to rebuild our democracy and why they work.

The stakes couldn’t be higher: In 1939, just nine months after 20,000 people attended a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden, philosopher John Dewey—80 years old and too frail to deliver the speech himself—gave a stark warning from that same stage. The task before Americans was clear: they had to choose between autocracy and democracy. If they wanted democracy to survive, Americans had to start thinking of it as more than just a political system. Americans could only defeat Nazism if they recognized that democracy is also “a way of life,” a specific way of associating, thinking, and communicating.

Today the threat is not Nazism specifically, it is autocracy in all of its many forms. As I hope to make clear during our time together: Dewey’s warning still applies. 

Please join me.

– Jennifer Mercieca