Overdoing Democracy: Why We Must Put Politics in its PlaceWhy We Must Put Politics in its Place
Democracy is an extremely important social political good. Nonetheless, there is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. When we overdo democracy, we allow the categories, allegiances, and struggles of politics to overwhelm our social lives. This has the effect of undermining and crowding out many of the most important correlated social goods that democracy is meant to deliver. What’s more, in overdoing democracy, we spoil certain social goods that democracy needs in order to flourish. Thus overdoing democracy is democracy’s undoing. A thriving democracy needs citizens to reserve space in their shared social lives for collective activities and cooperative projects that are not structured by political allegiances; they must work together in social contexts where political affiliations and party loyalties are not merely suppressed, but utterly beside the point. Combining conceptual analyses of democratic legitimacy and responsible citizenship with empirical results regarding the political infiltration of social spaces and citizens’ vulnerabilities to polarization, this book provides a diagnosis of current democratic ills and a novel prescription for addressing them. Arguing that overdoing democracy is the result of certain tendencies internal to the democratic ideal itself, the book demonstrates that even in a democracy, politics must be put in its place.