Quote of the day: Decline of American democracy


From the lead editorial in Germany’s Der Spiegel by Klaus Brinkbäumer:

[F]or an America that has long been pleased with itself, optimism about life was the default setting.

The fear, though, is new. Fear of social decline, of all things foreign and even of progress.

So, too, are the errors, and there have been far too many of them.

How, for example, could the Democratic Party have allowed itself to arrive at this level of dependency on the Clintons — how could it have slumped into such dynastic thinking? Everyone in the party knows that Hillary Clinton was strong in her campaign against Obama eight years ago — and they know that she is no longer strong today. Instead, she’s frozen, someone who has been around for what feels like an eternity. She still doesn’t grasp her 2008 defeat and this time wants to prevail in her aspiration. It is reckless for a party to push through a weak candidate purely out of principle. And how sad it is that few are still speaking of this wonderful goal, of finally — after 43 men — shattering possibly the last remaining glass ceiling by electing the first female president. There is no more passion or lightness in the Clinton camp — just panic, fear that the most absurd opponent seen in the past 100 years cannot be defeated.

How could the entire country have allowed the democracy for which it stands to fall into this degree of decline? Years ago, two ranting men emerged at the margins of society with a format called “talk radio”: Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Americans have always been addicted to entertainment and that helped allow these two stars to enter the mainstream. And little by little, mainstream society began resembling them. Hateful. Self-righteous. Intolerant. Frightened. Loud. And disdainful of all that seemed too distant: education, ideas, industriousness. The US became a dysfunctional country that was no longer capable of debate, barely capable of making or sticking to decisions and one that had lost that which had once been its source of strength — and it found nothing new to replace it, at least nothing novel and good. Were this a company, the diagnosis would be as follows: management has abandoned the core brand and botched the restructuring process; bankruptcy is around the corner.

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