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Clive Crook

Has Too Much Democracy Ruined America?

In the U.S., democracy doesn't work for the disengaged.
Wake me up when the midterms are over.
Wake me up when the midterms are over.

The most striking thing about the U.S. midterm elections is how little most of the country seems to care. It isn't as though nothing will change: If the Republican Party wins control of the Senate, as the prognosticators are saying, that will have consequences. Yet, according to one recent poll, voters are even less engaged than usual and turnout next month is likely to be less than 40 percent.

Disdain for Congress is one reason, no doubt -- or perhaps just another aspect of the same condition. In September, approval of Congress dipped to a record low of 9 percent; earlier this month it recovered a bit, but what you might call the zero lower bound of democratic satisfaction remains in sight.