Hopefully, Stephen Kinzer’s obituary for democracy is premature (“The Enlightenment had a good run”).
Two hundred years ago, America was sustained by slaves. Married women were, in effect, the property of their husbands. Unmarried women usually fared worse.
One hundred years ago, women still did not have a constitutionally protected right to vote, a right that former slaves had but often were violently prevented from exercising. America’s apartheid, benignly called “Jim Crow,” was in full force throughout the nation. Black lives did not matter, and no one would have dared to proclaim otherwise.
Then we were living in a partial democracy in its infancy. Today, democracy has become an adolescent but not an adult. The lives of the poor and of those just above poverty do not matter, or matter too little. Many of them are rebelling with just cause, but in a desperate, self-defeating way, funded by others who will gain at their expense. There is a big problem to be solved.
Democracy is taking a pause but is not dead yet. We need to reflect on where it should go so that it can continue to grow. It will not grow until it eliminates the poverty that fails to treat everyone with the respect that all deserve.