A Majority of Americans Now Believe That the US is in Danger of Not Being a Democracy

And It’s Deeply Disturbing

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The results of a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll are deeply disturbing. In brief, half of Americans — both Democrats and Republicans alike — now believe that the U.S. will cease to be a Democracy sometime soon. Each side sees the other as a major Threat to their existence and well-being. If this weren’t bad enough, Republicans now believe that there will be a Civil War.

In a word, Democrats and Republicans have totally different versions of Reality. Where Republicans are firm in their belief that Trump won the last election, Democrats believe it was part of The Big Lie. These two views are not only deeply incompatible, but irreconcilable.

Interestingly, a number of my Liberal friends have serious reservations about the poll. Are the results valid? How were the questions posed? What choices were the respondents given? And, most of all, how did they see the future?

While these are of course valid concerns, I have a different take. Indeed, preoccupations with methodology are often merely a sophisticated form of Denial, the abject refusal to accept painful Realities.

From my work in Crisis Management, I see the poll as a serious Early Warning Signal of an impending Constitutional, if not Existential, Crisis. It only confirms the extreme Divisiveness in which we ‘re embroiled. In this sense, it’s not surprising.

Nonetheless, I’m the first to admit that my nearly 40 years in the field of Crisis Management have caused me to err on the side of cautiousness. In addition, I’m wired temperamentally to look for signs of trouble and to take them seriously. For these reasons, I’m inclined to take the results of the poll with the utmost concern.

As much as anyone, I wish that I had an answer to what ails us, but I don’t. Even though I’ve come close, I’m not ready to give up entirely on this country, but I fear for it more than ever. I hope that there are still enough of us who want to come together and work our way forward.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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Professor Emeritus USC

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Ian Mitroff

Ian Mitroff

Professor Emeritus USC

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