The Roots of the American Crisis

Losing the Democratic Habit

YoniAppelbaum

It is easy to think that Trump is the cause of all of our problems regardless of whether you agree with him or not.  In this article we learn that he is a symptom, not a cause.

From this article:  “Americans once learned self-governance by practicing it constantly – in lodge halls, neighborhood associations, and labor unions.  As participation in these institutions has dwindled, so has public faith in democracy.  To restore it, we must return democratic practices to everyday life.”

The article explains how dangerous our current situation is.  The foundation of our democracy was discussed by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America.  He points out that democracy comes early in our children’s lives, “Children in their games are wont to submit to rules which they have themselves established, and to punish misdemeanors which they have themselves.  The same spirit pervades every act of social life.”  The article goes on to explain how Americans believe in “following rules, electing officers and making decisions by majority vote.”  Or I should say believed.  It then explains how this democratic process is no longer part of our everyday lives.

The article discusses how “Trump won by speaking directly to voters who had the least experience with democratic traditions.”  This goes hand in hand with the fact that the majority of Republicans disagree about the importance of our educational system, especially when it comes to higher education.

We are no longer a country of joiners – unless we are joining one side or the other in acrimony.  This article was printed in October, 2018, but it is still so pertinent as we now watch the impeachment of the president, where Trump threatens the witnesses on Twitter, the Republicans are more interested in finding a way to blame the Democrats or the Ukrainians or the Bidens for anything that makes Trump look corrupt, rather than look at the proof given by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Mueller Report and many other sources.  Russia sabotaged Clinton’s election in order to elect a man who doesn’t believe in democracy, but the rule of the rich, nasty and mean.  Thomas Jefferson wrote that, “When once a Republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”

The news media continues to say that the American people believe this or that about Trump’s impeachment hearings.  I believe the average American is not paying much attention to the hearings.  Many have already decided.  Most work and can’t stay home to watch daily hearings.  If their media supports Trump, so will they.  If media is against Trump, so will they be.  Our lives are so full with surviving, there isn’t time to study carefully what is going on even at a time that may be pivotal to the survival of the country everyone says they love, but most have no time for, as long as their lives are not disturbed.  Have we lost the democratic habit?  The next election will tell us.

Please read “Losing the Democratic Habit” by Yoni Appelbaum

The Atlantic issue, Is Democracy Dying, October 2018 has other fascinating articles:

Warning From Europe

Why Technology Favors Tyranny

The Threat of Tribalism

A House Still Divided

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