Election Day 2018 – Vote!

Published November 6, 2018

I just finished reading Eric D. Weitz’s Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton University Press, 2018) and it speaks to the challenges that are also now confronting our American Republic. I here quote from his closing paragraph:

“Weimar still speaks to us. Its sparkling creativity and emancipatory experiments, politically and culturally, are still capable of inspiring thoughts that a better more humane, more interesting condition of life is possible. It reminds us that democracy is a fragile thing, society an unstable construction, each threatening to spin wildly out of control. Weimar shows us the dangers that can develop when there is no societal consensus on any of the fundamental issues of politics, social order, and culture. Democracy can be a fertile soil for all sorts of interesting debates and for the efflorescence of the cultural spirit. But when virtually every debate becomes a live-or-die question about essential features of human existence, from the intimacy of the bedroom to the structure of the business world, when every issue is seen to carry earth-shattering significance, when there is no overarching system of belief to which most people give their loyalty, a democracy cannot long endure. And it especially cannot endure when powerful groups in that society seek at every turn to undermine and destroy it’s very being. The threats to democracy are not always from enemies from abroad. They can come from those within who espouse the language of democracy and use the liberties afforded them by democratic institutions to undermine the substance of democracy. Weimar cautions us to be wary of those people as well. What comes next can be very bad, even worse than imaginable.”