Is Democracy Viable?
We cannot take liberty for granted — even here.


Thomas Sowell

Today, we take universal literacy for granted. But literacy was not universal across all segments of the American population during all of the 20th century. Illiteracy was the norm in Albania as recently as the 1920s and in India in the second half of the 20th century.

Bare literacy is just one of the things needed to make democracy viable. Without a sense of responsible citizenship, voters can elect not merely leaders who are incompetent or corrupt, but even leaders with contempt for the constitutional limitations on government power that preserve the people’s freedom.

We already have such a leader in the White House — and a succession of such leaders may demonstrate that the viability of freedom and democracy can by no means be taken for granted here.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


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