Chapter 1 Current Events Bulletin – December 2017

Eroding Pride in Our Democracy?

The hours and days after an election are always filled with divergent emotions, ranging from relief to regret, joy to despair.  Most would agree, however, that the aftermath of the 2016 race was different.  Since the advent of sophisticated polling, colossal surprises have been rare.  Races can be tight, sometimes too close to call, but true shockers have been few and far between.  Even seasoned GOP operatives were astonished by Trump’s easy win.  His core supporters were euphoric; they had snatched the presidency away from “The Clintons” and “The Establishment” and their outspoken, unconventional hero would renew America.  Hillary Clinton and her followers were thunderstruck, despondent beyond measure.  Clinton herself was badly shaken, unable to utter a concession speech until the next day.

Still others began to question the viability of the entire election process.  Has the election/democracy nexus in the United States been strained, if not broken?  After all, the “system” had offered voters two candidates with historically high disapproval numbers.  Perhaps more to the point, a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland in October 2017 appeared to underscore waning faith in the process.  While the poll found low levels of trust toward the institutions of the federal government, which was certainly no surprise, it also revealed pride in our democracy eroding.  The share of Americans not proud of the way the country’s democracy is working doubled in just three years — from 18 percent to 36 percent.  Doubts about our democracy were not limited to Trump critics; even 25 percent of his supporters were not proud of the way our democracy is working.

As this book will underscore, political activism in a democracy can move along different pathways.  Many of the most portentous changes in our government and society occurred despite repeated expressions of the majority’s will.  The struggle is much more important than whatever happens every two or four years on a Tuesday in early November. The solution for our troubles, as it is in any vibrant democracy, is not one mode of activism or another — but all of the above.

1. Do you believe America’s election process is broken? Fully explain why or why not?

2. Watch the attached video and discuss two pathways of action that you believe a person could engage in to change or support the current election process.

3. Respond to at least two (2) of your classmates posts. Your responses should be at least two (2) paragraphs long.  Every paragraph should consist of at least three (3) sentences.

4. Your response to the prompt should be at least three (3) paragraphs long.  Every paragraph should consist of at least three (3) sentences.

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