Town Hall was packed for Blogger/Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s talk on her new book, Democracy Awakening. The author is an optimist about democracy, even in this troubling moment, because our system of freedom has already survived critical challenges, from slavery and Civil War, to a Depression and Jim Crow. Democracy for Richardson, a history professor at Boston College and a much-read blogger, is as ever a running contest through history to keep its promise alive.
She suggests one answer — especially apt in this discouraging American hour — to re-establish a reality-based community, a conversation based on facts, on a reasonably common narrative. Tough, however, in a time of “alternative facts” and willful purveyors of distortion.
Asked directly if democracy itself would survive another Trump presidency, she answered no, in part because of his announced plans to end civil service protections — what she calls the essential ballast in a democracy. But over time, Richardson also argues, democracy will survive. She said, “America is not great, not yet, but the blessing of our inheritance is that it can be.”
Some last lines in her new book: “So far, the hopes of our Founders have never been proven fully right. And yet they have not been proven entirely wrong. Once again, we are at a time of testing. How it comes out rests, as it always has, in our own hands.”