Sunday Reading: The Fragility of American Democracy – The New Yorker
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The crisis of American democracy hardly ended with last November’s election. And it has a lengthy history. Not long ago, Jelani Cobb wrote a Daily Comment about the parallels between America’s abiding legacy of racial injustice and its enduring antidemocratic movements. The attacks and campaigns that have disenfranchised Black Americans for centuries weren’t only expressions of racism, he observes, but “a gleeful expression of defiance toward a government that dared try to uphold democracy.” As he notes, there is a clear link between the nation’s racial hypocrisy and its autocratic leanings.
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This Fourth of July weekend, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about the fragility of our political system. In “What We Get Wrong About America’s Crisis of Democracy,” Adam Gopnik explores the enduring appeal of authoritarianism. In “People Power,” Jill Lepore considers the evolution of the American experiment in democracy. In “The Republicans’ Wild Assault on Voting Rights in Texas and Arizona,” Sue Halpern reports on new restrictions and the broad attempt to suppress ballot access and undermine the democratic process itself. And, finally, in a remarkable piece of reporting, “Among the Insurrectionists,” Luke Mogelson provides a portrait of the ragtag yet dangerous movement that attacked the Capitol just six months ago: “The sky darkened. At 8 P.M., Congress reconvened and resumed certifying the election. For six hours, Americans had held democracy hostage in the name of patriotism.”