If the media are to be believed, many people are worried about the current state of the country, democracy, and civil society. I often see comments that things are worse than they have been and are about to implode. That’s why this article is so interesting. It’s an interview with a business school professor who argues that many people often believe the current situation is worse than it really is in perspective.
One of the things that particularly struck me as I worked through the various case studies on the history of American democracy is that in just about every generation, right back to the beginning, many people thought the American Republic was on the verge of collapse.
At least once, these pessimists were right. In the 1850s, in the lead-up to the Civil War, their predictions of imminent breakdown proved accurate. But in every other generation, arguably, they were wrong. The fact that it feels to many right now that we’re in a crisis of American democracy needs to be considered in this context, since their fears could just be a continuation of this long trend of political hypochondria, if I can call it that.