If anything the 2016 presidential election proved that democracy and two-party (plus more party) government is in potential trouble. There were a number of firsts, never before happened in the living memory of anyone. This should cause rational people to feel troubled.
Study U.S. history to see how different this election was
Let me start with this. In the past and it helps you avoid becoming a zealot if you have a basic understanding of U.S. history. In the past politics got ugly to the point that sometimes antagonists fought duels with their opponents (Andrew Jackson, Alexander Hamilton).
Nevertheless, most people viewed the members of the other party as wrong, but still loyal citizens.
In the past most of us tried to be fair
In most cases members of one party were at least grudgingly willing to try and cooperate to a small degree with the other party so something could be accomplished. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, drew yes votes from both parties. It took cooperation.
This has changed. Today more and more we have one party trying to obstruct the other party in every way making forward momentum impossible. I have one friend who is a bit of a conservative nutcase who said on Facebook not to gloat because Trump won because much conservative work still needs to be done. Presumably reworking the world into a conservative vision of paradise.
Taking no prisoners politically won't work
In other words undoing everything achieved during the past eight years. Instituting a (conservative’s view) of America. It amounts to an all-or-nothing approach.Here are five ways the recent election proves American Democracy is in free-fall.
- Lack of civility. Candidates threatening, telling each other they belong in jail. Voters threatening each other. One clip on Facebook showed a bare-chested muscleman threatening to beat anti-Trump demonstrators. Violence and the threat of it is a poison on the system, which depends at the very least on some restraint. Otherwise there is anarchy.
- Threats against a free press. Conservatives endlessly condemn what they say is the “liberal media” over and over like reciting a rosary, but never mention conservative media and its twisting (Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and the rest).
Reporters have a right to believe as they want, and if they fabricate news should be called on it. However, describing news slanting as a national conspiracy is something new and a direct threat to our First Amendment, the bedrock of our system.
- Charges of rigged elections. This has never happened before. Al Gore’s dispute in 2000 was over a vote count, not a blatant accusation of fraud. When a candidate makes an unproven charge of election fraud he trashes the entire system and opens the way for future candidates to make similar charges if they don’t agree with an election result. This is potentially devastating.
- Attempts to intimidate political opponents during a debate by standing over them looking physically threatening while they make their statements. We better have ground rules for future debates. The way candidates behave on-camera and act is important.
- Intimidation of voters. Asking supporters to police polling stations is perhaps the most direct threat of all to our democracy and it is difficult to assess how extensive any such action was. It did happen. The mere fact one candidate could ask for such a thing is incomprehensible.