Last week we offered a link to Lee Drutman’s article “We need political parties. But their rabid partisanship could destroy American democracy” on Vox, September 5th, 2017. This week, in Death of Democracy – Part 2 (an admittedly transitional post for the sake of relative brevity of Part 3) we consider some of the antecedents to the democracy we see melting all around us.
Image by alexander parms
Before the [civil] war, it was said ‘the United States are’, grammatically it was spoken that way and was thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war it was always ‘the United States is’ as we say today without being self-conscious at all.
~ Shelby Foote, historian
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” So begins the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. “We the People…” began with the idea of banding together in the spirit of democracy, in order to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” Oh, well! Could this period in which we now live represent the beginning of the death of the democratic experiment that was and is supposed to be the United States?
Charlottesville, 2017 – image by Andalou Agency/Getty Images
As a second follow-up to Tim Snyder’s article On Tyranny, the post this week links to a lengthy article only briefly mentioned in last week’s post. The article is called “We need political parties. But their rabid partisanship could destroy American democracy” (which appeared in Vox on September 5th, 2017). The article, by Lee Drutman is quite long, but well worth working your way through as it presents a series of issues we should all consider, including:
- Our fundamental disagreement about what it means to be an “American”
- The value of political parties
- Reasons for why we maintain relatively intractable political positions and staunchly maintained polarization
- How and why division in current U.S. politics is preventing democracy from functioning as it should
- How the current political climate in the U.S. threatens to create a breaking point akin to the Civil War
- That inequality and polarization have grown in tandem for the last few decades
- That the intrusion of money into the electoral process is fueling voter discontent and the disjuncture between the public (actual constituents) and campaign donors (paying constituents)’.
As mentioned, the article is lengthy, not very sexy, but well worth the effort to understand what it presents.
Extending the Drutman article’s focus on political division, next week’s post– Death of Democracy – Part 2—frames this problem into a slightly more embedded historical context, reaching toward addressing our need not only for less division but toward more proactive socio-political solidarity.
As the first of potentially multiple follow-ups to a previous post about the book On Tyranny by Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, here is a link to an excerpted interview with Mr. Snyder you might find illuminating.
The seekingGood.blog has endeavored to provide useful information such that readers might expand their understanding of themselves and their overall knowledge as well as to subsequently act in accordance with the “Good” they individually manage to determine. This blog has offered repeated admonishments to “find out for yourself”, to do your own investigations. Furthermore, while this is a decidedly left-leaning blog, we have also endeavored to encourage open-mindedness, exploration of competing ideas and transcendence of the comforting limits of habitual ways of thinking. In this light, consider the following.
Governments do not think. People think. Think tanks represent people thinking collectively. Governments implement and enforce policies. Regardless how much thinking individuals do, most will have little direct impact on public policy issues. Think tanks—collections of thinking people–often help to develop or influence public policies. (more…)