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Our Post-Trump Democratic Prospects: What the Ming Dynasty Can Tell Us

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/01/10/our-post-trump-democratic-prospects-what-ming-dynasty-can-tell-us

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To Sam’s insight I’ll add Jefferson’s knowledge that a well educated citizenry was necessary for the success of Democracy. Please spare me the constraints of who the founders intended and constrained to vote–we all know the history and we all know that we have evolved since then, largely due to the flexibilities built into the founding documents that allowed for social progress. We have seen champions of voters’ rights such as Stacy Abrams and must applaud her persistent and successful work at re-enfranchising large swaths of voters. We have also witnessed the dis- and misinformation campaigns so toxic as to make a thinking person wretch and perhaps even disengage from politics altogether. I know many intelligent people who just ignore politics because it has become to ridiculous, which plays into the hands of a segment of power who prefer that only the uneducated vote (sound familiar?). We desperately need civics to reenter the high school curricula in a meaningful manner. Not just the founding documents, but let’s add some MLK, some Sitting Bull, some Zinn, some Smedley Butler, etc. Let’s explain to the youth to real story of this nation–warts and all. They will be better prepared to vote their conscience because it will be an informed one.

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You’re talking about “the mandate of heaven” theory and it held true over 4000 years through dozens of dynasties and probably almost as many revolutions (when they became corrupt).

Also I think your characterization of Chinese society as pre-modern isn’t as appropriate as you might think, considering that the population of China was bigger then than the US’s is now. And its leadership toggled between freshly into power and often just, and corruption. Some dynasties only lasted a short while, others lasted for hundreds of years.

China viewed itself as the center of the world, surrounded by barbarians, much as too many here in the US do today. (similar levels of hubris)

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SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis summed up the spirit of this article more than a century ago when he noted that “you can have democracy, or you can have concentrated wealth, but you can’t have both”.

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It’s not just Trump or the GOP, the problem involves a large number, quite possibly a majority, of our nation’s population. Until that problem is addressed, both democracy, and national politics are dysfunctional and largely inoperable in our nation.