Democracy is dying in the United States. And its death is very much a public death. Max Boot quotes Montesquieu: “The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.”
Certainly, Congress is -- at least partially -- to blame. But much of the public appears to not give a damn:
I don’t see massive marches in the streets. I don’t see people flooding their members of Congress with calls and emails. I don’t see the outrage that is warranted — and necessary. I see passivity, resignation and acquiescence from a distracted electorate that has come to accept Trump’s aberrant behavior as the norm.
A recent Gallup poll found that Trump’s approval rating among Republicans — the supposed law-and-order party — is at a record-high 94 percent. His support in the country as a whole is only 43.4 percent in the FiveThirtyEight average, but he is still well positioned to win reelection, because most people seem to care a lot more about the strength of the stock market than about the strength of our democracy. This is how democracies die — not in darkness but in full view of a public that couldn’t care less.
What is happening in the United States is a reminder to all of us that democracy does not come free. People will argue about the source of the quote. Some say Edmund Burke. Others John Stuart Mill. Regardless of who gave it to us, the line remains true: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil [or the death of democracy] is that good men should do nothing.”
Image: Psychology Today