Democracy and distance running aren’t all that different in one particular aspect. Both ask, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? Because whether as citizens or as runners, what we do today must be linked to what we did yesterday and what we must do, again, tomorrow. Neither is like a bank account where interest can grow absent constant infusions of capital. In that sense, complacency and inattention are the bêtes noires of each.


America began with an ancient idea for a new world, democracy, a  form of government in which the people exercised the authority of government through elected representatives. 

But ideas, like people, grow old and tired and are susceptible to change, even corruption. What then of an idea as hoary as  democracy in America?

As we embark upon an important midterm election in 2022, I have read several articles recently outlining ways We, the People are increasingly growing tired of our democratic form. The fate of democracy was paramount in Mr. Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address amidst America’s (first?) Civil War: “…testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

To date, this nation, under that conception, has endured for 246 years. But over the last 25 years, the number of individuals dissatisfied with democratic politics has risen from a third to more than half.

Shifts in satisfaction were often a response to “objective circumstances and events”, such as economic shocks and corruption scandals, one report said.

Felix Rohatyn, an investment banker and rescuer of a bankrupt New York City, spoke of the “huge transfers of wealth from lower-skilled middle-class workers to the owners of capital assets and to a new technological aristocracy.” Those who skip or flunk the computer will fall into the Blade Runner proletariat, a snarling, embittered, violent underclass.”

We reached that state in 2016 and since January 6, 2021, have seen embitterment and violence metastasize.

When such surveys began in 1995, more than 75% of U.S. citizens were satisfied with American democracy. The first big jolt came with the 2008 financial crisis, the report showed, and satisfaction has continued to deteriorate year-on-year ever since.

Fewer than 50% of Americans are now content with how we are governed, marking the first time on record that a majority of U.S. citizens are dissatisfied with their system of government. And this disfavor isn’t just found in America, either. Many large democracies, including Australia, Mexico, U.K. and Brazil, are now at their highest-ever level of dissatisfaction with democracy.

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