Democracy Fatigue

Tired of fighting? Feel like voting / marching / calling Congress / all of it is pointless? Maybe you are suffering from democracy fatigue, which threatens to become both epidemic and chronic in the United States.

The causes are not hard to find: just turn to your Twitter feed, open your newspaper, or turn on the television and watch U.S. Senators waiting for their seemingly inevitable vote to continue the most corrupt and incompetent presidency of the past century. This president is not only a disgrace to office, but also holds that office despite receiving nearly three million votes less than his opponent. Has the Constitution failed to protect the country, or have we failed to honor the Constitution? Either way, we’re screwed.

This failure is not the end of the story. This is no time to give up. Now, more than ever, we must fight harder. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, of our country, of our world, we must take this country back from the minority who claim it now. And yes—they are a minority. They are far less than 50 percent, less even that the minority that voted this president into office. Never forget that he lost the election by three million votes. A majority said no to him, but the Electoral College said yes.

In this fourth year of the Trump debacle, we are tired, but we must not stop fighting. Interviewed in Salon, Professor Henry Giroux said:

“’Democracy fatigue’ does the work of moral depravity because it seems to suggest that even in the face of horrors, we should not be outspoken. That we should get tired and fade into the darkness so to speak.

“When you fade into the shadows you become part of the problem. This is not a matter of being tired, it’s a matter of justice. It’s about the truth. It’s about social responsibility. It’s about facing up to the fact that we live in very dangerous times. The issue is not to get tired; the issue is to fight harder.”

Cynicism and despair are as much our enemies as Trump and racism and corruption. Nothing about this Constitution or this country make either unworkable or unsalvageable. What makes any country or system function well is not an underlying ideology but rather the care, commitment, and hard work of its people.

Look at religion, any religion. You will find examples of people of faith working together to care for one another and to care for strangers, to build up the world and make it a better place. You will also find people who use religion as a weapon of division and hatred and persecution. Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu—every religious tradition offers examples of loving and of hateful ways of living out the tradition.

So, too, with political systems. Our country’s beginnings were based in dreams of freedom and equality and justice that ignored realities of legalized slavery and genocide and less-than-personhood for women. We still claim those ideals of freedom and equality and justice, and we still fall short, but we cannot give up on the ideals. We must commit and recommit to them in every generation and in every election and in every struggle from the township to the national level.

When we lose an election or an impeachment, we do not lose forever. These are moments in history, not the end of history. We have an obligation to continue the fight.



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2 responses to “Democracy Fatigue

  1. Katie Fournier

    Thanks, Mary! Helpful and encouraging words!


  2. Mary Turck

    Thanks, Katie!


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