Democracy Reinvents Itself

In democracies’ political chaos, new model emerges.
In democracies’ political chaos, new model emerges.

LONDON (AP) — Bickering in the Oval Office. Shouting at the Houses of Parliament. Rioting on the Champs-Elysees.

It’s a chaotic moment for the countries that have long underpinned the global order, a time of instability for the balance of power that has reigned for decades.

Across the world, people are questioning truths they had long held to be self-evident, and they are dismissing some of them as fake news. They are replacing traditions they had long seen as immutable with haphazard reinvention.

In France, people who feel left behind by a globalizing world have spent the last few weeks marching and rioting to protest a government they call elitist and out of touch. The government, whose initial dismissiveness seemed to confirm their suspicions, was finally forced to change tack.

Britain is still shuddering from a referendum that its government called to muzzle naysayers, only to see those naysayers win the day. Now, as politicians go through awkward contortions to deliver on that vote, the government is on the verge of collapse.

And in the United States, a president who some accuse of upending ideals that the nation holds dear is aggressively abandoning protocol and customs that have prevailed through a dozen of his predecessors. His core followers are thrilled; many others are getting vertigo.

What’s more, these events are playing out not only in the lands of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, of the Magna Carta and of the Declaration of Independence, but across the Western world.

It’s a similar narrative in each place: People outside the centers of power are rejecting political elites they feel take them for granted, and backing new movements that eschew the rules and that often play to their basest thoughts.

To be clear, this isn’t a weakening of democracy. In a way, it’s the opposite.

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