A Bad Moon Rising

Democracy is in crisis, all around the world.

I remember the morning of 9/11/2001, talking to a friend on the phone while watching the World Trade Center crash over and over again into a cloud of dust and rubble. I said to my friend, “Well that’s the end of the Republic.”

Fifteen years later, I see no reason to retract that statement. The United States is in the last stages of the democratic republic we’ve had for more than 200 years. The institutions still exist in name, but the function has largely changed. We’re at that awkward stage where one form government has passed, but the new one hasn’t settled in yet. We’re still working out what kind of country we’re going to be next.

This shouldn’t shock anyone. In the ten thousand or so years that we’ve had governments there hasn’t been one yet that lasted forever without changing. The US has already changed governmental structure once.

The most interesting thing about that particular study to me is the bit about how about 1 in 6 Americans are now okay with the Army running the country. Only 19% of millennials think it would be illegitimate if the Army were to take over from a dysfunctional civilian government.

This, I suppose, is supposed to shock us, but to me it’s about the most blindingly obvious political development in ages. We’ve spend decades telling everyone that every soldier is a hero, that soldiers are good, virtuous, and capable, and at the same time telling everyone that politicians are evil, corrupt, and incompetent. Of course a lot of people are okay with the Army kicking out the politicians and taking over.

People in Egypt a few years ago thought the same thing. It did not, unfortunately, work out as they’d hoped.

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