In significant ways, our democracy has ceased to function with majority rule that values compromise to win broad voter support for legislation and also values protection of minority rights. According to Democratic political strategist Doug Sosnik, Trump could win re-election just by continuing to appeal to his base, which is about 35-40% of all voters — with no effort to try to broaden that base or be president of all the people. The causes are complex: gerrymandering, the fact that single issue minority voters tend to be more fired up than the masses, tribal identity, right wing talk radio, intensifying culture wars, loss of faith in all institutions, loss of the ability to tell truth from fiction and loss of preference for evidence rather than gut instinct.
One of the clearest examples of a fired up minority dominating the national discourse and imposing policy on the rest of us is the gun rights issue. A very small percentage of Americans — 3% according to Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday morning program GPS — own the majority of the estimated 270 million to 310 million guns stashed in our homes, garages, hunting camps, cars, businesses, and who knows where else. But those zealous gun owners, with the support of the NRA, dominate the debate and impose a free-wheeling, AK47-for-all culture on the rest of us.
Most of the Sunday morning CNN talk show interviewees see things getting worse for the foreseeable future, not better, which is hard to contemplate.