American Democracy at Risk

On June 1, 100 scholars of democracy issued a Statement of Concern.

Onpoint, NPR, broadcast and interviewed three scholars to discuss the state of American democracy. Go here to listen. It is worth listening more than once. During the discussion, Americans contributed their thoughts to the discussion. These are very insightful and encouraging in terms of action and belief in our democratic way of life.

On the Onpoint site there are other resources to continue reading and listening to scholars who have deep understanding of what comprises a democracy, our current situation. Let’s start a discussion here. Please post your thoughts.

4 Comments

  1. The fact that an entire political party has been hijacked by the nutcases has dire implications for our future. I am from rural white conservative America, and they will explain their position clearly, if the audience looks like them. I summarize it here:
    “We’re better than than people from the cities
    We work harder. We worship the right god. We are the correct sexual orientation. We’re the right color. And because we’re better than you are, the end justifies the means. In other words, we will fight to control the government using any means necessary.”

    They are not open to compromise.
    They require submission.
    If those of us on the left are not prepared to submit to minority rule, we need to prepare for the fight ahead.

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    1. What is called the Republican party today is not the Republican party that my parents belonged to until the ’60’s. Then they became staunch Democrats when the party began to sing the song that we hear today: a minority knows best. The other pernicious aspect of the Rump supporters is the use of democratic language for ideas and policies that are authoritarian in nature – theft of the very language of democratic societies. When that happens, its almost impossible for the average American citizen to parcel out what it means. The fact is that we have a wholesale attempt to negate the votes of millions of Americans in the shadows of a terrible lie. Rump is the first president in our history to not succeed to the next duly elected candidate for the Presidency. That should get everyone’s attention. Our government depends on the rule of law, trust in the vote, and peaceful transition of power. You are right. We have our work cut out for us. But I am hoping for on the ground conversations with friends and neighbors to win the day. I may be very wrong this could work. But I want to try it first. Thanks for the comments!

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  2. The ongoing risk to our democracy has become a frequent topic of discussion in the media–and for good reason, and it is not only the Jan. 6 insurrection. A Trump-supporting neighbor, a retired Navy pilot from Alabama, insists that the US is not really a democracy at all as the Constitution refers to the country as a “republic.” The word “democracy” does not appear in the Constitution. I take my neighbor’s view to be a narrow interpretation, akin to a literal reading of the Bible. (The founders had their own reason for not using the term democracy and it had much to do with slavery.)

    I am influenced by the book by Harvard historian and New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore, “These Truths: A History of the United States.” The book is an examination of how the US has evolved in terms of progress in living up to “these truths.” So I think of America as a work in progress. When we achieve the fulfillment of our ideals we will have become a diverse, totally inclusive “democratic republic.” We are not there yet, and recent events give us new concerns about the fragility of our democracy. Especially troubling is the passage in many GOP-controlled states (including Florida) of laws that make it more difficult to vote. Combined with structural issues like the greater power residing in rural and small states, as well as partisan gerrymandering, the country is increasingly ruled by a minority. Minority rule is inconsistent with a democracy “of the people and by the people.”

    Susan, thanks for pointing me to the Onpoint programs and resources on these issues.

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    1. This is a very astute summary of “where we are.” I worry that the right has created distrust in government, weakening voters’ belief in the system (striking at local precinct volunteers who have been the backbone of monitoring the voting process and take pride in it; now in some states creating fines and liabilities for voting center volunteers). Yes, minority rule is EXACTLY what Republicans want and have ever since reconstruction. Jill Lepore is an insightful historian. I have that book and with your reminder, may read it again. Together!

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