The biggest problem facing US democracy did not come up at the Democratic debate in Charleston this week. It hasn’t really been discussed in the election at all. But it lurks behind all the more specific issues, an unwelcome presence no one quite wants to acknowledge.
It is simply this: The US is in a period of declining social and political trust. Americans increasingly think the system is rigged and that their fellow citizens don’t necessarily share their basic values and presumptions. This makes them strongly disinclined to invest their hopes in political promises of common good.