Our nation’s founders recognized that America was an experiment, and a fragile one at that. Throughout our history, astute observers and historians have noted that America continues to be an experiment. At this point in time, what’s your prediction? Is the experiment succeeding or failing?
Free elections are a mainstay of our democracy, and so this week we’ve discussed various features and implications of the November general election. We talked about which political party wants to make radical change in America and which one cares more about Americans (it’s the same party, by the way). We noted that Tea Party members are especially fearful of the threats of terrorism and Ebola. And we discussed the historically low voter turnout in this month’s election.
Today, we reflect on what this may mean for the American experiment.
There are many ways to reflect on this issue, and in this short post, I want to outline just two: low voter turnout and internal threats.
America had the first modern design for democracy, but we haven’t lived up to the potential. Once, Election Day was a celebration. Going to the polls was a heady, exciting, and solemn act.
But, as Howard Steven Friedman writes in The Measure of a Nation, we typically have lower voter turnout than other large, rich nations. Friedman’s findings show that Americans tend to be far behind countries such as Belgium, Australia, Spain, Netherlands and Japan. And in this recent election, we hit a new low in the exercise of our voting privileges.
The value of security refers to protection from internal and external threats. Tea Partiers, for example, fear the external threats of terrorism and Ebola, and the internal threat of “Big Government.” But there is another internal threat—one that Douglas Patterson noted in a comment this week: radical individualism. This is the core American value of self-reliance run amuck. It denies responsibility for anyone other than oneself.
What’s your verdict on the American experiment?
Are you concerned by the low voter turnout?
Have we become too self-reliant and inward looking?
Your viewpoint is important!
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