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Democracy’s Distressing Retreat

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Ten years ago, Stanford professor Larry Diamond—a recent guest on my radio show —noted the world was suffering a “democracy recession” with self-government and civil liberties in retreat almost everywhere.

When the Soviet Empire collapsed 30 years ago, some observers proclaimed “The End of History” with permanent victory for the ideals of personal liberty and free markets. But with the rise of authoritarian powers like China, Iran and Putin’s Russia, that process seems to have reversed.

Even in NATO nations like Turkey and Hungary, not to mention developing states like South Africa, Venezuela and Brazil, democracy seems imperiled by corruption and extremism. The Economist publishes a Democracy Index highlighting 60 indicators that found most of the 167 measured nations saw lower scores last year.

There’s no easy fix for this disturbing trend, but the United States could help the situation by setting an example for democratic governance with less polarization, acrimony and gridlock than we display today.

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  1. Ty  •  Feb 6, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    I think part of the problem is that people are better sorted by political and cultural identities. The elites seem to be more sorted based on ideology, and those who support those elites get dragged along for the policy preferences of those elites.

    Case in point, Dave Horrowitz called Obama a communist several times on Dave Rubins interview show. Most conservatives with a brain would not do such a thing, but going off his lead, plenty of them would follow along like good little can't think for themselves supplicants.

    There was a good article on this from the American Conservative (MY old stomping grounds!)

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/no-americans-are-not-polarized-by-ideology/

    Most conservatives are against things like eliminating or radically cutting medicaid and medicare and social security, no matter how loudly many of their elites rail against such policies, so why do they go along with people who preach things that are not aligned with their actual beliefs and attitudes? For the same reason Trump won out of 17 conservative candidates that had MUCH clearer tethers to mainstream conservative thought and dogma, it was less about the policies, and more about identity.

    And what are the dividing lines for that identity?

    -Urban vs Rural
    -White Christian religious vs non white christian and secular (it's interesting that I consider non conservative christians more closely aligned with secular people than I do with say, evangelicals, because the value set and identity is very different and divides starkly along political lines)
    -Young vs Old
    -White vs non white

    Trump had greater appeal to the "WHITE" working class (they are not the only racial group working, but they certainly felt assaulted by having so many … what was it? Ah yes, MEXICANS coming over and taking jobs and depressing wages and speaking spanish and committing crimes.

    MAGA, like when? When immigration was radically shut out to non whites?

    The evangelicals flocked to Trump, his personal failings be damned, because he was "on their side" and would protect and defend and advocate for THEIR interests. Against what? Or more potently, WHO? The liberals, the left, the baby killers, the people who want to remove the ten commandments from court houses, the people who choose not to say MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Secular liberals and non insecure christian liberals that do not get butt hurt if they do not see the word christmas on every starbucks cup a not the same as us… and on it goes. Last anecdote, I remember reading an article that the people in the city of Memphis Tennessee wanted to remove some confederate statue, and would have done so at a certain if the state legislature did not block it. This, according to conservative dogma is bad form, for after all, THEY are the ones claiming more local government is the best way forward, but the locals living in the city that were more LIBERAL had THEIR will preempted by representatives living in the more rural parts of the state who were PROUD of that confederate traitors statue and wanted it to stay up. Did they want it put up in the rural parts, oh no, they wanted it where the liberals congregated, that did not want that symbol near them. But screw what they want. Identity.

    There are two general solutions to this problem. Either find a way to live together in spite of being sorted along more ideological lines (at the elite level), or split up and do what many claimed Iraq should have done with the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds getting their own space.

    I don't see signs of much progress here anytime soon, talking to conservatives they are too dumb to be slapped out of their dogma the elites tell them they need to buy into, and what policies liberals want (like Obama and most leftists wanting standard textbook socialism or communism).

    • Rizzo  •  Feb 9, 2018 at 8:05 pm

      Isn't it crazy how Ty has this selective memory, and he likes to recall some incident in Memphis, Tenn. and the removal of historical statues… then pretend to be in favor of local/state government…. then, he gets all AMNESIATIC when it comes to Prop 8 in California?

      He and his ilk were begging for the US Federal government to step-in and overturn the will of the people.

      So Ty…. Which is it, moron?
      The answer is, as always, whatever it takes to destroy American traditions and institutions and further the leftists agenda.

      Pathetic hypocrite!

    • Ty needs counseling  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 12:33 am

      More word vomit from Tyrese.

    • Ty needs counseling  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 12:39 am

      And it isn't surprising that you find "non-conservative Christians" to have more in common with secular people. The reason for that is that "non-conservative Christians" are mostly not Christians. When compared to the American system, Christianity is a conservative religion.

    • Ty needs counseling  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 12:58 am

      And the word communist has many different meanings to different people. What was the context of David Horowitz saying that? Do you think you are more intelligent, informed, and wise than David Horowitz? And we really don't know what Obama's true positions are. He was smart enough to lie about most of them. He was for all sorts of radical gay rights positions back in Chicago. And then when he wanted to get into mainstream politics, he changed his positions. And then, when he no longer needed to lie, he went back to some of his real positions. Tyrell, you have no idea what Obama's true political views are. I am 100% certain that that they are far more radical than he lets on. But dopes like you went for him because of the color of his skin and his supposedly great oratory skills.

  2. Jim Bird  •  Feb 6, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    OMG, it IS far more enjoyable watching paint dry than waiting to see if T can construct at least one sentence correctly!

    • Ty needs counseling  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 1:01 am

      I think Tyrese is on a downward spiral. That hate for people different than him is eating him up inside. I can definitely see a decline in the quality of his posts from even a few months ago. I mean it has always been somewhat of a case of keyboard diarrhea, but not it is even worse.

  3. Jim Bird  •  Feb 7, 2018 at 1:46 am

    So Michael, since polarization, acrimony and gridlock only comes from one side, should we do what the GOP always does—give up. Now they punt the ball to Trump who tweets the totalitarian twits the truth. That being, they’re obstructionist thugs. The GOP hides (doing the people’s business) waiting for Trump to save their ass again for the umpteenth time. He’s on an island by himself and deserves a place on Mt Rushmore for single-handedly saving the Republic. You’ve seen the Best Picture of the year—Churchill saved the Monarchy by listening to the people. The only people the GOP listens to is the Democrats and Trump when he chastises them in public.

    Do you still think Bill, Hill, O and a dozen or so coconspirators will go free for they’re countless felonies? If they do, of course, all the rest of us no longer have to worry about rule of law either, right?

  4. Rizzo  •  Feb 9, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Ty…. Why are you so hung-up on semantics?
    However you want to describe Obama: Socialist, Communist, Leftists, statist whatever… he represented and promoted ideals and policies that were not consistent with American traditions and values.
    However, he did manage to achieve something that I never thought was possible in my lifetime… he surpassed Jimmy Carter as the worst President in my lifetime.

    • Kevin M  •  Feb 10, 2018 at 6:57 pm

      The worst thing about Obama was that he actively and consciously set about weakening his own country to make things "more fair" (a superpower is inherently wrong). The left still believes in the pipe dream of equality of outcome rather than of opportunity (except for the ruling elites like Obama who never have to make do with less in pursuit of "fairness"). And when he said he wanted to "fundamentally transform America" he was quite serious and not in the way the voters understood it. What he actually meant was to use immigration and social policy to lower our average prosperity and level of work skills and education through immigration to make more folks dependent on government and hence the Democratic Party to keep them in power. Literally. Did we have any national discussion on this? No, it was decreed from above and if you dissent you are just racist and don't like "brown" people. We are having this discussion now with Trump in office and we will see where it leads.

  5. Kevin M  •  Feb 10, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Michael,

    Here you go again with these vapid comments about less acrimony and gridlock and more "getting along" with the left and Democrats. In your constant quest to be "reasonable" and "bipartisan" you ignore reality and continue acceding territory and progress to the Left, the main source of limiting freedoms in our country (micro aggression, campus speech codes, criminalizing thought, Orwellian redefinition of words, insisting anyone guilty of one verbal mistake lose their job, etc.). I can get along with most folks who I disagree with politically just fine but making a bipartisan "deal" with the Democratic party as it is currently configured just to appear nice or to "get something done" is a recipe for disaster, they do not deal in good faith and do not agree with you on much of anything. Common folks who vote Democrat may but the party and it's elected officials who are in power do not. Republicans should have learned long ago that cooperating with the Left will only get you burned. Two questions Michael:
    1. When will this country get it's fiscal house in order? The Republicans are in charge of the White House and both houses of congress and we are still making no progress in this area, it's barely on the radar screen. If not now, when? This is a once in a generation opportunity being squandered. I don't want to adopt every dirty trick and win at any cost tactic of the left but the right needs to grow a pair and get serious in combating the intolerant, authoritarian progressive Left and get serious about defeating their nonsense. Not constantly compromising. Easier said than done I know….
    2. Do you really think if the Dems controlled all 3 branches they would be telling the folks who voted for them that "there is nothing we can do, we don't have 60 votes"? Not likely

    If we need a compromise immigration bill that ACTUALLY deals with border security and e verify and prevents more DACA kids from poring in and chain migration that is probably a good deal but the latest budget deal is atrocious. While we are busy being nice and compromising we are steadily losing and have been for decades. Education, courts, media, trans-gendered military, Obamacare, 18 gender pronouns, men using women's bathrooms due to their "identity", how much is enough? Compromise when it is smart but quit making your number one priority getting along with an ideology that is ruining the country while they walk all over us.

    • Rizzop  •  Feb 10, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      Kevin M… KUDOS!

      Thank you!

    • Ty needs counseling  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 1:17 am

      One of the first things I noticed about Medved is that he will refuse to admit something that he knows to be true because it wouldn't be good politically. I remember a guy called his show and made an awesome point about whether democrats (or liberals – I can't remember) loved this country. The caller said something to the effect of – if you told your wife that you loved her but that she was a little too short, a little too chubby, she needed to dress differently, she needed breast implants, she needed to dye her hair, etc. How would that go over? And the point is this – the left claims to love this country but they want to change just about everything about it to make it like some other country. In my book, if you want to "fundamentally transform" something, then you don't love it. But of course, instead of agreeing that the guy's point made sense, Medved got all indignant and brought up two democrat elected representatives (old ones that are retired or dead) that were seriously injured in a war, and said how they loved this country. Medved couldn't even acknowledge the point that the left and the right "love" this country in very different ways. The right actually loves traditional american values, the traditional american way of life, and the founding values of this country. The left only "loves" what this country could become if it changed its identity and became something else, more like some little country in Europe. But that would be divisive and turn off moderates if we said that truth, which is that the left doesn't love this country. I quit listening to his show a while ago because he starting going off the rails sometime in 2016. I agree with you, "getting along," and finding "common ground" is more important to Medved than the truth and conservatism.

      • Kevin M  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 4:07 am

        That's a great example of what I am talking about. Michael also insisted that Obama loved the country "in his own way"….nonsense, as you said he wanted to "fundamentally transform it" so apparently he does not.

      • Rizzop  •  Feb 11, 2018 at 6:05 am

        Man… You guys are on FIRE!
        I'm really enjoying your comments.

  6. Kevin M  •  Feb 10, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    I wonder if Medved ever reads these comments. There is a lot I agree with him on and I still enjoy his broadcast but the last few years he seems to be the McCain of talk radio…..

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