Democracy’s Nurseries: How Public Spaces Build Democratic Values

To help give a little bit of perspective on where I’m coming from when it comes to issues of public trust and whatnot, I’ve decided to share an essay I wrote for for my political science class. If I remember correctly, we were told to answer the question ‘what is the one change that could be made to the American political system to improve America’s democracy?’

Difficult question.

For starters, I don’t believe America is a democracy. And I have some serious doubts about whether the nation, in its current form, can even be fixed, let alone “improved.” America needs to be totally changed. I also believe America’s problems go much deeper than its political systems, which are –don’t get me wrong– a serious problem in and of themselves, but also a symptom of other problems. I decided to address one of the things that jumped out most to me while living in America, and something that I think has utterly shattered American public life. That is, America’s almost total lack of meaningful and functioning public space, coupled with its obsession with security and target hardening.

There’s a lot of questions in this essay that need a deeper probing –in particular, on the production of normalcy– but this being a 101 paper and me being under time constraints, I just couldn’t get into a lot of it, and it’s all a little slapdash. All the same, I think it provides a decent overview of some of my thinking on this subject.

I should also mention that this essay was written in Busan, South Korea in mid January and very early February. While concerns about COVID-19 were in the air at the time, we were still about two weeks away from The Daegu Outbreak. I consider this my last piece of pre-COVID non-fiction writing. As such, it’s a bit of a curiosity to me.

Because it has some length, I’ve put it after the jump, and included a PDF for people who prefer that sort of thing. The PDF is here.

The essay is after the jump.

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