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As for the question of whether democracy is in danger, we should remember that there's a difference between partisan and policy disagreements on the one hand, and disagreements at the more fundamental level of norms and institutions.We should do everything we can to preserve this difference.On my reading of the evidence, our democracy is not in danger.
There's a familiar litany of stagnant wages and household incomes; wars without victory and apparently without end; ever-deepening political polarization; long-festering problems that persist from one decade to the next and apparently never get solved; and near records of mistrust in nearly all of our institutions.
We are doing better than most of our European peers on the trust continuum.
Still, we need to improve the performance of our democracy.
Support for it ultimately depends upon delivering results for Americans. The constant affronts to dignity that led the Tunisian street vendor to immolate himself were actually the spark that set off the Arab Spring. He had reached the sense that it was intolerable in a way that represented the sense of tens of millions. I've been doing survey research over much of the last two years and have concluded that the single most determinative issue in the 2016 election was immigration.
After 9/11, for example, a plurality of Americans believed that First Amendment freedoms went too far.
In short, we have had plenty of opportunities to wonder about the health of our democracy.
Our shared values matter the most in preserving our democracy.
The Pew Research Center, the gold standard of nonpartisan research, came out with a report on American democracy this year that poses a series of questions about the institutions and norms that make us a liberal constitutional democracy.
All the while, the strength of our institutions and the endurance of our values have allowed us to outlast any of those doubts.
Our democracy has proven to possess a powerful resilience, a reality that should not be underestimated.