Is the American Experiment coming to an end?

Naasei Lynn, Staff Writer

The spirit of a free and fair democracy has been at the heart of the United States’ cultural fabric since the nation’s inception. When the Constitution was written, the government it authored was a never-seen-before hybrid of legislative, executive and democratic power. For decades, U.S. democracy survived through the words of the Constitution and actions of those in power, but diplomatic turmoil has never stayed far away. From assassinations to presidential scandals, the public eye has frequently questioned the governing body that is intended to represent their ideas and protect their freedoms. Some challenges lingered longer than others, but one complex and controversial question still remains: how long will our experimental democracy last in its current state?

It  is no secret that U.S. politics is the most polarized it has been in recent memory. America remains unique in its political divide, as a two-party system has forced the nation into separate ideological groups. This new hyper-partisan state has already begun to show its detrimental effects on American democracy.

“We don’t have a shared set of views or realities or realize the potential impacts of our behavior,” Tualatin High School social studies teacher Kevin McManamon stated. 

McManamon mentioned how these polarizing parties are beginning to threaten the foundations of our democracy. The foundations of our democratic processes have been shaken before, but the footing of our democracy saw its greatest test on Jan. 6, 2021.

When a mob of mostly-right-wing individuals attacked the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., a new era began in American politics. For the first time in United States history, a legitimately-elected President was under the threat of being unable to take office.

“It shows a potentially-terrifying rejection of reality that we used to all agree upon,” McManamon said. 

This once again highlights the current fractures within our nation. The sudden unearthing of glaring issues within the democratic processes in U.S. politics sent shivers throughout the nation, even impacting students who witnessed the events through social media or television broadcasts.

“We have a decentralized voting system in America, and that is causing serious problems in upcoming elections,” Aishiki Nag, a 17-year-old Tigard Youth City Council member and Tigard High School student said. 

Nag stated how the insurrection shifted the institution of our democracy, and getting back on track will prove to be an uphill battle. Nag also explained how fixing our democracy will be hard, but not impossible.

“American democracy can improve, but it really depends on how many people take advantage of the system we have already,” Nag stated.

Recognizing the broken nature of our democracy seems to be the first step in a long process to restore democracy to its intended glory. The “experimental” hybrid form of government written into the Constitution may not have been built to weather storms of this magnitude, but a collective effort from the people it serves may help restore its purpose.