Will Democracy in America Survive?

Whether democracy in america will survive is an issue of the most profound importance. Its strength depends not only on the quality of our elections but also on whether people believe that their views are represented well in government. Its survival is further threatened by the rise of conspiracy theories and the emergence of authoritarian elements in our politics. In this time of heightened anxiety, we must rebuild faith in our democratic institutions and confront the new challenges that are now before us.

The evolution of democracy, like that of every other form of government, is the result of a constant struggle between two opposing tendencies. These are the tendencies of liberty and the tendencies of necessity. The one produces discontent; the other, enlargement. When the former prevail, the state is confined to its political functions; when the latter, it grows into an industrial power.

In the earliest periods of our history, the industrial tendency was in a stronger position, because men had to acquire wealth before they could enjoy the blessings of political liberty. But as soon as the possession of riches became a matter of public concern, it was natural that the demands of the needy should come to the forefront. The convulsions of democracy were the result.

It is this conflict between the industrial tendencies of the state and those of the people that gives to our government its particular character, and that makes it distinct from that of other states. As in Europe, it is a struggle between the classes that have and the class that has not. And it is this conflict, which may be called the class struggle of democratic states, that will make or break democracy.

The most important task is to ensure that all citizens have access to this democracy, and that their interests are well-represented in the law. But this cannot be accomplished if the Supreme Court continues to interpret the Constitution as a super-legislator, permitting it to overturn laws Congress passes and give states a veto over policies that they don’t like. This is why reforms ranging from 18-year term limits to expansion of the Court’s membership are essential. They would rebalance the coequal branches of our government and rein in the Court’s unchecked powers. In the hands of a president who respects the constitutional process, these reforms can restore our democracy. In the hands of a man who doesn’t, they can spell its doom. The choice is yours. The future of this nation and of democracy the world over hang in the balance.