Eliza Newlin Carney: Why democracy needs good news

Author and policy expert Robert Kagan drew broad notice with his Washington Post essay declaring that the nation is “already in a constitutional crisis” and may be on the cusp of “mass violence,” but he is hardly the first to forecast democracy’s demise.

Headlines like “Will 2024 Be the Year American Democracy Dies?” and books with titles like “How Democracies Die” and “Twilight of Democracy” have become commonplace in the post-Trump era.

The apocalyptic tone of much democracy writing is unsurprising given the magnitude of the crises facing the nation and world. But there is a danger that bleak alarmism can itself corrode democracy still further. The “genre of disaster prediction,” as newsletter writer Robert Hubbell dubbed it in his response to Kagan, tends to stoke paralysis and despair.

This very demoralization is toxic to democracy. When the Economist…

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