Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
analysis, criticism, American plurality, democracy
The United States has long been considered one of the most successful examples of democracy, with success measured in the quality of representation, the duration of our polity, and the ease for political regime change. However, it is necessary to question whether our democratic ideals are still prevalent in today’s society. The unfortunate response is that they are not. The revolutionary notions that marked the founding of the American republic have been misplaced. Our government seems to have experienced a devaluation of its founding principles, where now, our government participates in actions that do not represent the vital tenants of democracy, but rather, undermine basic rights. This thesis will examine the processes that have led to the deterioration of our democratic values. Through analyses of distinct military interactions, institutional creations, and individual contributions, which endorsed ethically questionable practices and policies, we will determine how these specific milestones contributed to the propagation of the political decay. For the purpose of this analysis, this thesis examines three periods of American history, The Cold War Era, The Globalization of Low-Intensity Conflict, The War on Terror, and the ways that rising tolerance for questionable policies appear to have contributed to the progression of the deterioration. Hannah Arendt’s concept of the “backlash phenomenon” will be used to examine how these deteriorative processes have occurred, and why they’ve continued. It will become evident that these policies have disempowered the American people by praying on their most vulnerable weakness: the fear of a threat to their security.
Lewis, Michael G., "A New Crisis of the Republic: The Erosion of the Democratic Ideal" (2012). Honors Theses. 847.