Perpetual Tumult: A Brief History of American Democracy



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The dispute over the 2020 election, culminating in a violent riot on January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol has caused many people to worry about the fragility of American democracy. In this Kettering Foundation white paper, Alex Lovit, a historian and foundation program officer, examines the work of Samuel Huntington and other scholars to look at cyclical patterns of unrest in the nation’s past. Lovit makes a case for optimism about our nation’s democratic resilience that is based on a reading of American history that finds that these moments of tumult have rarely led to the collapse of democratic norms. Rather, they have represented attempts to reconcile the nation with its founding ideals. The long tradition of Americans participating in political life with passion and conviction is a source of strength for our democratic culture.

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Civil Society