In a society like ours, democracy in America can be seen as a constant struggle to preserve freedom and equality. However, recent events and polling suggest that American democracy is struggling more than ever before. According to a recent poll, 52% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, 69% are pessimistic about Americans with different political views working together to resolve differences and 48% are dissatisfied with the way their democratic system works. Despite this, the country still holds itself up as a model for other nations to follow.
In this time of heightened political conflict, many are blaming democracy’s failure on big money, the corrosive effects of social media and an overall lack of civic participation. The American system, which enables wealthy individuals and corporations to influence politics and elections through huge political donations, has created an elite class that obstructs true reform. Consequently, the country is becoming more divided than ever and many citizens are losing their sense of democracy.
This book examines the nature of democracy in america, assessing its problems and challenges, and providing a set of tools for readers to evaluate how well our political system is functioning. The editors bring together a diverse range of voices to explore the ways that democratic theory and practice intersect in the United States at this critical moment.
Democracies come in all shapes and sizes, with each one shaped by its own culture, history, and traditions. Nevertheless, they all share some fundamental elements. The most significant of these is the idea that, in a democracy, power rests with the people. This is usually accompanied by a rule of law and a free press. The democratic ideal also promotes open debate and an active citizenry that is involved in self-government.
During his visit to America in the 1830s, de Tocqueville observed that this country was a burgeoning democracy, with public debate and constant elections. Moreover, he believed that Americans had a profound respect for their equal status with each other. As a result, he feared that this democracy could be threatened by social inequality, if citizens became satisfied with their equality and were no longer interested in participating in self-government.
The book’s chapters analyze the relationship between democracy and America from multiple disciplinary perspectives, spanning the vital epochs of the Revolutionary era, the contentious lead-up to the Civil War, and the triumphs and failures of Reconstruction and early reforms. It cultivates, for students and teachers in classrooms, as well as citizens in cafes and libraries, a language to deliberate about the possibilities and limits of democracy in our time. The chapters are organized around a series of enduring democratic dilemmas and questions. The book also includes extensive primary and secondary references to allow readers to pursue their research in greater depth.