Democracy is Alive and Well in the United States

There is a great deal of anxiety in the U.S. these days.  The delta variant pandemic surge, worsening global warming, and the exploding national debt, for example.  All of these are serious problems which need lots of attention.

These real issues have engendered a great deal of pessimism about the capability of our political system to respond adequately to our biggest problems.  Liberal democracy and capitalism are under attack.  On the left, markets generate inequality and democracy works only when it achieves the right outcomes.  On the right, markets destroy traditional moral conventions and individual freedom encourages behavioral deviancies.  In short, the western model of individual liberty and religious neutrality is under political pressure.

But consider:

  • Worldwide, freedom and democracy still strongly predominate.  According to Freedom House, even though there has been some slippage in recent years, the number of free countries greatly exceeds the number of partly free countries which, in turn, exceeds the number of not free countries.
  • U.S. democracy had a huge stress test in Fall 2020 and passed with flying colors. The Trump organization filed more than 63 lawsuits claiming voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election and not a single lawsuit prevailed.
  • Are we prepared for future emergencies like the pandemic?  Even though Covid-19 originated in China, China contained the coronavirus very effectively with a centralized and severe lockdown policy.  Our free and decentralized democratic system is unable, by design, to respond in the same way.  But U.S. drug companies produced several effective vaccines in record time and the pandemic is now essentially under control, in spite of the delta variant.  We should have confidence in our incredibly innovative economy to be able to deal with future crises in a similarly effective manner.
  • Political polarization does not represent a breakdown of democracy. It is caused primarily by progressive-left identity politics and the strong reaction to it by the right. Identity politics will gradually fade away as the U.S. population becomes more and more racially amalgamated.

Conclusion.  Yes, the United States has very serious problems to address.  Yes, there are many people who are pessimistic that our democratic form of government, based on our 233-year-old constitution, no longer meets our current needs.  But we are so strong, both economically and militarily, with such vigorous democratic traditions, that we should be optimistic that our long and successful traditions will pull us through not only our current troubles but any new ones which come our way.

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