Emily Gorcenski, Nicole Hemmer, Christopher Mathias, Jalane Schmidt
Trump supporters’ storming of the Capitol, as Trump refused to concede his loss in the 2020 presidential election, underscored the significant challenges confronting U.S. democracy. The presence of armed, violent vigilante groups roaming city streets, state capitals, and university campuses, with the president’s blessing, affects every American, including and beyond those who are directly targeted with political intimidation. The actions of Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists, self-identified alt-right fascists, and mendacious politicians who denounce a free press and promote propaganda for their own political gain pose a danger to the body politic. Liberal democratic principles assume the protection of free speech and the pursuit of civil dialogue—and an interlocutor who accepts these norms. But should one engage fellow citizens who have shown themselves to be dishonest political actors? What are the key concerns to attend to, approaching inauguration day and beyond, to improve America’s frayed democracy?