What’s the future of our democracy?

Liam Frith, Staff Writer

The world’s anti-democratic far-right has become increasingly powerful in recent years with those such as Victor Orbonz in Hungary, Jair Bolsonoro in Brazil and Giorgia Meloni in Italy gaining control of their respective countries, not to mention the numerous other countries that continue under undemocratic control.

In the US, we have the same problem approaching: we remain threatened by a large faction of openly anti-democratic voters, all of whom are entirely willing to participate in whatever doublethink they are asked of and are fully supportive of policy standing in direct opposition to a free America. 

As much as it might seem, we haven’t reached an end to history. Our democracy is not infinitely secure but instead needs to be constantly maintained. With sweeping anti-democratic sentiment taking hold of many countries abroad, we need to ask ourselves, is democracy on its way out within our own?

To answer the question, we should look to our most valuable and underappreciated resource: history. First, however, let’s set the scene. A sitting leader loses an election, claims fraud, is proven wrong and subsequently pressures those in his party to vote against the certification of said election, going as far as to claim his vice president has the power to throw it out all together. If we consult history and overlay this upsettingly brief summary of the last couple years, what do we find? What parallels in history tell us the future of our current situation? 

To find out, The Wolf asked two history teachers, Chris Duke and Steve Johnson, what usually has followed after events like these. 

“We have examples of this, for instance, when in 1923 Hitler and the Nazi Party attempted to overthrow the government of Munich,” Johnson explained. “We see that when people fail and refuse to follow the democratic process, it’s usually a step towards authoritarianism.”

Duke hit on the same point.

“When the will of the people is not being respected by a defeated candidate, what usually happens after that can be a variety of outcomes,” Duke said. “Sometimes the person will lean on sheer power to stay in charge. Oftentimes that’s military strength. Other times you see people rise against that leader who refuses to leave, and kind of chaos and potentially even civil war can happen. This is why it’s important that we respect and honor the will of the people.”

Do they believe US democracy is threatened in a situation such as this? Both say, “Yes.”

So, is democracy on its way out? As Johnson and Duke said, it really depends. We live in a time when, if we don’t actively fight back against ever-growing anti-democratic sentiment, we will end up like the many other countries falling under oligarchs, autocrats and dictators. 

We need to be aware of the moment in history we exist in and what it shares with other moments from the past. This is a crucial start in maintaining our most basic and beloved institution. If we don’t begin recognizing the danger democracy is currently in and start taking steps to protect it, then we can certainly say it’s on its way out.