Photo by Rosemary Ketchum
The Soul of Adolescence Aligns with the Heart of Democracy by Alfred Kurland is a call for uplifting teens and welcoming them into a democratic process that needs fresh blood.
In The Soul of Adolescence Aligns with the Heart of Democracy by Alfred Kurland, it is correctly pointed out that democracy is strengthened and furthered when the electorate is expanded, and the younger generation is allowed to participate in the democratic process without fear of reprisal. It is only when universal suffrage stays true to its conception that democracy grows ever more resilient and society becomes freer.
While it is difficult to imagine a time when the government was not an elected thing, it is always best to remember that the system of democracy, as is known today, is a recent phenomenon. It was only at the turn of the 20th century, after numerous revolts, rebellions, and regime changes, that democracy began to spread across the globe when imperialist and monarchist powers once ruled over everything.
So, with this in mind, people should not grow complacent and start believing that democracy as a form of government will always persevere.
Democracy, like a flower, must always be sustained and consistently watered before it can fully bloom. And even then, there are many that will try to tear off its many petals. That should not be forgotten, yet, unfortunately, it seems that it has been.
How Democracy is Being Challenged
After the so-called “third wave” of democracy—during the post-collapse period of the Soviet Union, thus ending the Cold War–there was a collective sigh of relief from many advocates of democracy and policymakers and analysts. They had thought that without the repressive force of the Soviet Union, authoritarianism, the very antithesis of democracy, would be quashed and that democracy would flourish over the world as the only viable and most beneficial form of government.
Looking at the conceit of the past and comparing it to the global political landscape today, it is apparent that their confidence had ideologically blinded them to be more prepared.
Not only has authoritarianism not vanished, but democracy is backsliding across many nations. China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and many of its neighbors are authoritarian strongholds, while supposedly democratic governments exist, at best, nominally, with democratic institutions in places like Nicaragua, Ecuador, Poland, Hungary, Turkey, and the Philippines growing ever-authoritarian.
Even the recent presidencies and prime ministerships of Donald J. Trump of the United States, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, and many others have prompted scholars to debate whether or not the world has entered into a period of significant global democratic recession. This observation is bolstered by the rise of populist and nationalistic fervor and the slow dismantlement of democratic institutions and notions across the globe, especially in countries that already have well-established democracies.
The Challenges to the Democratic Process
- One of democracy’s most powerful strengths is its ability to make competing political parties work together for the betterment of most of the population. Yet, with the advent of social media and algorithmic feeds, deep polarization, and community isolation has become much more prevalent—this is extremely evident with the divide between the older and younger generations and the animosity between Republicans and Democrats.
- Another issue that needs to be immediately addressed is the growing economic and class inequalities that are threatening to undermine the very notion of fairness in the democratic process. Without a solution to this widening gap, there will always be an imbalance of information and power that favors the dominant ruling class.
- Perhaps one of the most insidious challenges inhibiting a fair and free democratic process is the increasing distrust in the very concept of government. While it is integral to a healthy democracy that its citizens have the freedom and liberty to question the government, devolving into conspiracies about what is and what isn’t happening becomes a dangerous precedent. As such, a key area to focus on would be maintaining and improving a government’s credibility by enacting effectual and appropriate legislation and programs.