Dying Days of the Republic
Sometimes it feels like we are in the dying days of the republic. Have previous generations felt so pessimistic about America’s future? I don’t think so. While I think that a democracy is fragile in even the best of times, it seems like we are coming up on a future that looks more uncertain than ever.
All Nations Fall
As a student of history, I know that every country will fall. Nations are mortal, just like the people who comprise them. Moreover, history has shown us time and time again that monarchies become republics, republics become empires, and empires break apart into smaller fiefdoms, eventually becoming monarchies once more. This is far from universal, but it gives us a general idea where the future is headed. For those who cherish freedom and democracy, it would appear that the best times are behind us.
No Golden Age
I don’t think it’s all bad news, however. If there’s one thing that makes me optimistic about our future, it’s the sins of our past. Looking back at the history of our great republic, it’s hard to pinpoint a golden age. Power-wise, you could look at the end of World War II, when the USA was the most powerful force on earth. But behind that power lie inequality and oppression, with millions of Americans relegated to a racial underclass. Things got better a few years later, with the boom of the civil rights movement, but by then America was divided politically. The great debate over the Vietnam war led us into Watergate, Reaganism and the post-Communist world. Our society has remained divided ever since.
Instability as an Asset
The truth of the matter is that there never was a golden age of the republic. Some things have improved while other things have gotten worse. For people like me, who would like to continue this crazy experiment we call America, we can only work towards unity and progress, knowing that human nature is never perfect, and a republic’s instability is its greatest asset.