Zakaria Precis Chapter 5

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eThe Future of Freedom - Chapter 5 précis. In the chapter entitled “Too Much of a Good Thing”, Zakaria talks about the changes in the American political system since the 1960’s, and the explanations for these changes. America in the past 25 years has seen a significant increase in GDP and the end of the Cold War. As a country they have towered above the world politically, economically and culturally. However, Americans, regardless of all these progressions, feel unhappier in their government as they feel that their country has a fundamentally flawed political system; and have declining faith in their democracy. The Implications of this are that political participation has declined dramatically, since the 1960’s the voter turnout for presidential elections has fallen 20%. Voting is the least demanding of civic duties, other civic duties include party membership or participation in a school council. The past 40 years has seen an even more dramatic decrease in these kinds of political engagement. Some people blame this loss of faith in democracy on Watergate and Vietnam; however the doubt in government began before these events. Other people believe that the quality of politicians has declined over the past 25 years, and others believe that the quality has increased and that a bad system is to blame for the doubt, as the fall in public trust began shortly after the increase in public contact with political institutions. Democracy, in America, is merely part of a political structure; within this structure are many institutions that precede democracy. Democratising these institutions creates indirect democracy, for example Americans choose who will legislate for them, not create the legislation themselves. In the 60’s and 70’s the American government was subject to assault. Politicians decided to fix the system, by democratising it; which in the end caused more
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