The Importance of Democracy in a Time of Crisis

Photo Credit: Word Press

Photo Credit: Word Press

In times as strange as these, it seems irrational to concentrate on anything other than the pandemic. “Stay inside, wash your hands, distance yourself socially from others,” we’ve heard these phrases repeated to us over and over. However, through all of these changes and measures, it can be easy to lose sight of our liberties. There is, quite surprisingly, a primary race for president of the United States still that is still very much going on. Due to the confusion brought on by COVID-19, we seem to have collectively forgotten and discarded the institutions put in place in this country that are meant to give a voice to those who would not have otherwise. People have resorted to totalitarian tyranny during times of crisis in the past, and although these preventative measures are wise, we cannot forget the importance of democracy and political discourse. 

I spoke with AP US Government teacher, Mr. Andrus on this topic, and he had many interesting and important points:

JJ: Is it important for young people to be involved in political discourse? If so, why?

SA: Yes, absolutely! Policy and governance affect young people as much as anyone else in society. Things that matter to younger people are often neglected by politicians and the media because young people tend to be less politically engaged, vote in lower numbers, etc. For instance- politicians are very fearful of messing with Medicare and Social Security because those are programs for old people and old people vote and participate. Politicians don’t take student loan issues, expensive college tuition, affordable daycare, or affordable first-time housing very seriously because those are bigger issues for people aged 18-35 or so and that cohort just doesn’t vote or engage politics as much. It’s tragic but true.  

JJ: Why is this particular election important historically?

SA: This election matters from top to bottom, locally and nationally. We will determine if we want to take policy and governance seriously like adults running a major world power or if it’s all just a joke or a prank or trolling. The “future” is always at stake in any election but this one is really important due to America’s relative declining influence in the world, climate change issues, massive (and dangerous) income inequality… and now global pandemics! This is an “all hands on deck” situation.  


JJ: Why is it important for people to participate in democracy in a time of crisis? 

SA: Crisis brings out the best and worst in people. Bad people may try for a power grab. Trump might try to delay an election he could very well lose. This isn’t a partisan thing, a Democrat might try to pull the same stunt. We cannot let that happen.  We must continue to engage our democracy and value democratic ideals in the face of crisis or we could LOSE our free society. We CAN do this, we don’t have to go the authoritarian route. The US Civil War and the Great Depression are two great examples of a time of crisis in the US where we did NOT surrender our democracy to tyranny out of fear. I’ll remind you we had a full election in 1864 in the middle of the Civil War. Elections in 1940 and 44 in the middle of a worldwide armed conflict. The Brits had elections even as they were being bombarded by the Nazis. Democracy is only as fragile as we let it be. 


JJ: What can we do to make sure more young people become registered to vote?

SA: When I taught US Government and AP US Government I made it my business to get all my seniors registered to vote. It is very easy to register online or by mail. Teachers and parents need to share this information AND also set an example by voting and being engaged citizens. Which party or no-party is immaterial- engagement and participation are what matters.  


We should all be safe, and we should all be cautious. However, we cannot forget who we are and the systems that we have in place to keep the citizens of this country liberated from tyrannical oppression. Everybody who is eligible in this upcoming election must register to vote. As a citizen of The United States, your right to vote is one of the most powerful forces ever given to common people in human history to enact worldwide change. You owe it to the international community not to take that right for granted.

If you have not yet registered to vote, and you will be 18 on November 3rd, you can register here: