The Atlantic

The American Crisis

Amid assaults against the press and the rise of technology, democracy is in a fragile state. Can it overcome the challenges it faces?
Source: The Heads of State

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the question: Is democracy dying?

The National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia, is a monument to the benefits of pessimism. The center, which is situated across an open expanse from Independence Hall, is a superior educational institution, but, understood correctly, it is also a warning about the fragility of the American experiment. The 42 Founding Fathers who are celebrated there, life-size and in bronze—the 39 who signed the Constitution, and three who refused—did not believe that men were good. Quite the opposite. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” “Federalist No. 51” states.

The system of government delineated in the Constitution is a concession to the idea that humans are deficient in the science of rational self-governance. Today, during a moment in which truths that seemed self-evident are

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