Is Democracy Ready For The Next Wave of Change?

Lynn Roach, Economics, Harding University HS

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


With the political climate in the United States and throughout the world in 2017, many believe that democracy is in danger and that the American system of democracy is under an emergency, is broken, and needs to be healed, fixed or perhaps even replaced by revolution. In Naomi Wolf’s book, The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot, A Citizen’s Call to Action, she cites echoes of events of the past and outlines the Ten Steps of how freedom gets lost and regained through revolt.1 Should American democracy be altered? Is democracy the best political system for America and for other countries around the world? Do successful and failed democracies share common traits? Many believe that they do. In The Fate of Young Democracies by Ethan B. Kapstein and Nathan Converse, the authors argue that democracies share common traits of regular contested elections for political office and certain economic policies.2 Must democracies be flexible, adaptable and effective in order to be successful? When is the right time for change and does this change have to occur through revolution? Is it time for democracy to evolve? Samuel Huntington believes that democracy comes in waves. In his book, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, he states, “… the unwinding of authoritarianism is gradual and … democracy is often not a government for everyone and … transformation and change come from within the regime.”3

1 Wolf, Naomi. 2007. The end of America: letter of warning to a young patriot. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Pub. Pg.IX
2 Kapstein, Ethan B., and Nathan Converse. 2008. The fate of young democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 7.
3 Huntington, Samuel P. 1991. The third wave: democratization in the late twentieth century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.