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‘Democracy’ Features Prominently in American Political Rhetoric, Not So Much in Political Practice

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 21% of respondents believe that “preserving democracy” is their top concern, beating other issues like the economy and crime.

What does this phrase mean?

The Biden re-election campaign calls Trump “an existential threat to democracy,” identifies him as someone who “wants to be a dictator,” and extolls the defense of democracy as “the most urgent question of our time.”

“Whether democracy is still America’s sacred cause is what the 2024 election is all about,” said the incumbent president, reports Nat Perry for Consortium News, in an article on the role of “democracy” in the election.

Meanwhile, more Americans feel that they have little ability to influence public policy. Surveys show that 85% of Americans think the high cost of political campaigns prevents good people from running.

A majority of Americans think the Democrat-Republican duopoly does such a bad job of running the country that “a third major party is needed.”

A 2022 survey found that only 33% of liberals felt they could substantially influence politics, and an even smaller 22% of conservatives.

Meanwhile, the primary proponents of “democracy” have put major efforts into keeping their political opponent off the ballot, in the courtroom, and definitely out of the White House.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, former presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said that the Democrat policy for the election is “destroying our democracy and taking away our freedom.” The establishment is acting “to keep us the American people from a very simple thing—having the freedom to choose who we want to be our next president.”

Important as this discussion is, it omits something most crucial: what actions outside the presidential election can the people of the United States take today, to shift the policy of the nation? Diane Sare and José Vega are running for office. Others elect, every day, to speak up in city council meetings, town halls, street corners, and community meetings.

Being deprived of the right to vote for Donald Trump (who’s not exactly Abraham Lincoln) is indeed undemocratic; how much more undemocratic is the lazy decision to focus on a presidential election rather than taking action personally today?