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July 1, 2016,

This month, as we celebrate American independence, the NewBostonPost will focus on the theme of democracy.  In a way, like all roads “leading to Rome,” all questions that we care about ultimately lead to the over-arching question of democracy’s meaning. The way in which we live our lives, and our freedom to make daily choices, is ultimately dependent on the success of our democratic republic and the liberties that our constitution protects.

Although our country’s founders risked their lives to make a government of free men possible, many Americans today tend to take democracy for granted, unconvinced that our nation is exceptional in the world, and unaware that their glorious, but fragile, human achievement requires courageous defending and personal engagement if it is to survive.

Democracy ensures our individual freedoms and allows our voices to be heard. Yet American democracy, proud in its beginning and stubborn in its survival, has reached a crisis: today we find it plagued by twin threats of political apathy, on the one hand, and strident and intolerant discourse on the other.

Sadly, much of what Alexis de Tocqueville, the great early observer of American democracy, warned us about has come to pass: Individualism, or, what we might today label a “me-first culture,” distracts from the great civic obligation to actively collaborate in a free society; a focus on material success, prosperity, and equality creates indifference for politics and disengages people from the public discourse that must inform political decisions, leading to a “benevolent despotism.” Most frighteningly, de Tocqueville’s prediction about a possible tyranny of the majority, the “sheer moral force of the majority,” has become reality. According to Tocqueville, old-fashioned despotism “to reach the soul, clumsily struck at the body, and the soul, escaping from such blows, rose gloriously above it; but in democratic republics that is not at all how tyranny behaves; it leaves the body alone and goes straight for the soul.” This is the modern day equivalent of political correctness, identity politics, campus safety zones, hate speech accusations, and all the hysteria and hyberbolic public discourse that makes democratic consensus impossible, drowns out minority views, and undercuts religious freedom.

At the NewBostonPost, we are hopeful that the positive forces of American democracy will yet prevail. We will look at grassroots initiatives that attest to a vibrant civic spirit and will thus honor the great American tradition of local political engagement. We will look at how schools are imparting democratic values and a “love of country” and stress the importance of doing so. We will also look at different religious groups that might not present the majority view, but deserve to be heard nonetheless, because they enrich our view of life and the human condition.

The Declaration of Independence noted that we all have a right to life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness, but our country is a rich tapestry of views as to what constitutes individual happiness. At the NewBostonPost, we embrace individual freedom in the context of a shared national identity, celebrating personal liberty while striving to promote the common good and continuing, always, to engage in an exciting discourse about what that means to the country we love, the nation we are.