Democracy Always Has One Foot in a Fairy Tale and the Other in the Abyss.

We Still Rely on the Long-Term Strength of Democracies to Reverse Course When Things Go Wicked.

Sakshi Kharbanda, Ph.D.
3 min readDec 17, 2020
Artist: Sharanya Missula.

Democracies neither rise nor get destroyed overnight. Iraq's invasion did not lead to democracy immediately after Saddam Hussein was removed. Instead, it led to the realization that other factors, apart from removing a corrupt authoritarian, were necessary too for democracy to grow. Similarly, the older and more rooted democracy becomes, the tougher it gets to deracinate it. However, all democracies more or less face one thing in common — the swing between euphoria and misery.

“Japan, early twenty-first century, you would still feel like you’d won the jackpot. Greece is in more of a mess, yet it too remains prosperous and peaceful by historical standards. There are many, many grimmer places than this. The crisis was never resolved, but the worst never happened either.”, says David Runciman in his book How Democracies Die.

One of the sources from where authoritarians derive their power is the “anticipatory obedience” [1]; they get this in abundance from their citizens, says Timothy Snyder in his applaudable work on democracy, On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century.

Synder explains, anticipatory obedience means “adapting instinctively, without reflecting, to a new situation.” These are imprudent acts of compliance throughout history, from allegiance showered upon Hitler in Germany and Austria to the support received by Trump from the Republican party and 71million Americans.

The Republican Party is obsessed with the idea of success, no matter what the cost — it may as well be the nation itself. Either the election result is favorable, or they are impelled to shake the foundations of democracy; hollow the system from within. The most disturbing thing is that Americans have not understood it even yet that election 2020 could have been their last meaningful election. American democracy needs protection from no other but Americans.

Our democratic lineage or institutions will not come to our rescue if we do not take deliberate measures to protect ourselves from the…



Sakshi Kharbanda, Ph.D.

Learner| Researcher| Writer. Writes on Democracy, Capitalism and Inclusion. Fascinated by Mathematics and Mathematicians.