Recently a prominent conservative stated that the US was a risk of becoming a “Banana Republic” because Trump’s actions in the White House. There may be a risk of that if the Senate continues to turn a blind eye to his authoritarian instincts and utter disregard for the constitution. The risk rises if Trump is re-elected with Republican majorities in both houses. But it is only a risk and that risk is low in a nation which devolves as much power as possible to local authorities. Others have expressed concern about the state of democracy around the globe.

I am still confident that democracies are viable. They may bend and sway but they are not brittle. What makes a democracy strong in my opinion are four basic characteristics:

In order of importance:

1) An engaged and informed electorate

2) A free press

3) The rule of law

4) Peaceful transition of power

The world's established democracies (Democratic since at least the end of WW II) are suffering from disengaged electorates, but thankfully that seems to be changing for the better. Thanks partly to polarizing politicians like Trump. He has reinvigorated politics in the US. Bernie Sanders has done his share of the heavy lifting as well.

Press freedom seems to be under attack but it is not at serious risk in those same established democracies. Trump rants about the press being the enemy of the people, but all he has really done is draw people's attention to the first amendment. Nixon said the same things about the press. The free press is still here.

The rule of law is still well established in those same democracies as is the peaceful transition of power.

Democracy is under threat in many nations where it has only recently developed (think post-Soviet Union). This could be a sign of relapse into old habits, but could also be a natural slowing of progress as the initial enthusiasm gets dampened by the reality of the effort required to build and sustain a democracy. Only time will tell, but the populations there have had a taste of Democracy and I believe they liked it.

Democracies, because they can renew themselves at every election are resilient in ways that other forms of government are not. Sometimes the debates get loud, nasty and seem interminable. That is just human nature. Those who say America has never been more divided have forgotten the Civil War. This round of tension is reminiscent of the 60's. The US survived that and will survive this.

Democracy is alive and well in the US and around the world. Don't let the cacophony of debate lead you to prefer the silence of dictatorship.