The Ten Hallmarks of American Democracy Skip to content

The Ten Hallmarks of American Democracy

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Soon after the 2016 election, Rachel Maddow listed ten hallmarks of American Democracy that make it uniquely American. If any of these are threatened or eliminated, we have lost a key part of our national character, and a key freedom that we cannot take for granted.

I thought it would be helpful to post this checklist, so that I (and you) can refer back to it if need be. One use it as a gauge of the impact of the Trump presidency on the American experiment.

Ten Hallmarks of American Democracy

  1. A free and independent press
  2. An independent judiciary, that do have the power to correct the other branches
  3. An excellent and professional military that is not used as a political force against our own people, and that answers to the civilian leadership
  4. The freedom and ability to participate as citizens in our civic life, including free and fair elections
  5. An advanced and mature civil society, with organizations to advocate for change and to protect the weak
  6. The freedom of assembly to organize and to speak out
  7. Openness to immigrants
  8. No official religion
  9. No official language
  10. No king, but instead a democratic process and a peaceful transition of power

We are already seeing challenges to these ten foundational parts of our national character, starting with the press. One Trump spokesperson has said that people had “better be careful” how they speak of Trump. And a person under consideration for serving in the Trump administration has said that the protests need to be “quelled.”

Policies come and policies go. They are important, even critical, and their implementation can affect many people, even to the level of life and death.

But if these ten foundations are not honored and preserved, it will affect the life and death of our nation itself.

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