This Is No Time for Complacency About America's Democracy

Ever since World War II, a liberal democratic bargain has existed. Governments elected by the people would deliver a growing economy and rising living standards, provide security and protect the health and welfare of their people. The bargain has come up short of late, creating tensions and strains that have fueled populist revolts in the United States and across the Atlantic. This upheaval has led a number of political leaders and scholars to wonder whether democracy is in danger, not only in post-communist nations, but even in America.On my reading of the evidence, the answer is no.Turbulence is not newWe have encountered many turbulent periods in American history when it was difficult to find room for optimism. We probably would have seen declining support for liberal democracy had survey research existed during the Jeffersonian-Federalist struggles, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Great Depression. (Liberal democracy is best defined by such fundamentals as free and fair elections, an independent judiciary and freedom of speech.)  Continue reading...

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