Americans of Both Parties Giving Up on Democracy

Americans of Both Parties Giving Up on Democracy October 24, 2023

We have blogged about the political theorists who have turned against the concepts of freedom and democracy.  But even more concerning is a recent poll that shows that rank and file Americans from both sides of the political divide have also turned against Constitutional self-government.

A poll conducted by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics found that 31% of Trump supporters and 24% of Biden supporters believe that democracy is “no longer viable” and that America should try some other system.

That’s nearly a third of conservative Republicans and nearly a quarter of liberal Democrats!  And it gets worse.

  • 47% of Biden supporters and 35% of Trump supporters believe the government should restrict people from expressing views that are “considered discriminatory or offensive.”
  • 41% of Biden supporters and 38% of Trump supporters said that it is acceptable to use violence to prevent political opponents from attaining their goals.
  • 41% of Trump supporters and 30% of Biden supporters said they favor either conservative or liberal states seceding from the union.
  • 30% of Trump supporters and 25% of Biden supporters advocate suspending elections in times of crisis.

See the full survey report for more depressing opinions about the state of our union.

The news story by Large portion of Americans doubt democracy and view violence as acceptable, poll finds, adds a reference to a poll from the Pew Research Center that found that only 16% of Americans trusted the government to do what is right most of the time.

I second that emotion, but distrusting the government shouldn’t mean throwing out the entire structure of government.  Our Constitution, with its checks and balances, is designed to prevent bad governments and bad people in government from doing too much damage, so that the ship of state can go forward and Americans’ rights and liberties are protected even in times such as ours.

But how long can a democratic republic operate if the people themselves repudiate democracy and their own freedoms?  I don’t know.  I guess we’ll see.

I am reminded of the classic quotation of Winston Churchill, who said, “democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”  What other system do those 31% of Trump supporters and 24% of Biden supporters want to try?

I suppose the alternative to Democracy would have to be some kind of one-man rule.  Why do they think that would be better?  Would they like a king?  A hereditary monarch?  Install Donald Trump as monarch, to be succeeded by Donald Trump, Jr.?  Or King Joe Biden to be succeeded by Hunter?

A dictator?  One of many problems with dictators is that the plan of succession generally involves rival military groups staging a civil war to get their guy in power.

I realize that some–but not all–Trump supporters would be happy to have him exercise absolute power, but I don’t see Biden winning that kind of allegiance.  Perhaps the leftists would prefer a dictatorship of the party, as in the Soviet Union and today’s still-Communist China.

One system would be voters electing their absolute leader, as in today’s Turkey and in some city-states of ancient Greeks.  But even that would be a democracy, the system of government by the people that a big percentage of the people think is “no longer viable.”

It is true, though, that democracy is rare in human history.  One-man rule of some kind is much more common.  There is no reason to think our current democracy–much less our values of individual liberty and human rights, which are also being rejected on a large scale–will last forever, or even very long.

Our nation’s founders signed on to the notion that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  They considered these principles not as subjective “values” but as objective “truths,” truths that are “self-evident.”

They are certainly not “self-evident” today, in an age that doubts the Creator, human equality, the right to life, the right to liberty, and the very existence of truth.  I suppose we still believe in the “pursuit of happiness,” but that’s not much to build a government around.

Illustration:  Doublecompile, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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