:: Life Of Dave ::

The insurrection

I've been planning to write something about the question of democracy in America, which in my own mind has been in question basically since Trump was elected. It's been bouncing around in my head to address why people don't seem to care - people who acknowledge the problem don't seem to be doing much, and much more problematically, so many don't recognize there's a problem.

What I should have realized is that today, on the first anniversary of the insurrection, everyone would briefly talk about it. So today Biden gave a speech, and many other events are planned.

Several other publications also did stories around the topic, including the Economist asking how we should think about the threat to American democracy.

I've been thinking about this a bit more systematically. We've known for some time that people feel that democracy isn't working for them - since 2008 things have gotten messier, although politicians have always been suspect.

The difference has been the escalation, where we're now at a point where a large percentage of people think violence is OK.

By and large, people don’t care about candidates. They care about their pocketbook, and they care about their quality of life. They like free money when it comes, but complain about wasteful spending when it’s voted on, and they really don't like it when governments at any level raise taxes (or fees, or anything) in order to pay for things.

So where does the fault lie? It's complicated. In general people are unhappy, and that's on the politicians. But we actually do vote on people, so why aren't people voting differently? And that's down to things like media, and education. The Atlantic recently did a story about how higher education has a responsibility to our nation to ensure people actually know how our democracy works. I'm very sympathetic to the idea that education is a key part of a functioning democracy. That said, how you go from riots at the school board over basic science to actually supporting democracy through civics classes, I don't know.

At the end of the day, so long as we aren't making peoples' lives better, we're going to have angry people. We somehow have to normalize voting and civic participation as the solution, and de-normalize violence. And that means the solutions we offer have to actually work - people who vote should see that their vote matters, both in terms of who gets elected, and the outcomes. And maybe that's the scariest bit of all this - by electing Trump, people did see a change. They saw someone in power who reflected their fear and anger (and hatred, in some cases). And then we elected a normal politician, and things went back to normal. But normal isn't nearly good enough.