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On democratic well-being
Chances are good that when her identity as a political figure has passed, Condoleezza Rice will be regarded as one of the most valuable thinkers to emerge from the contemporary age. It's hard for people to dissociate her from her roles as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, who is not a neutrally-regarded figure even now. But it's worth trying.
■ Rice has taught and written since leaving government service, and her 2017 book, "Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom", has particular resonance in the present. Inside, Rice warned that "In today's interconnected world, the creeping and subtle authoritarianism of illiberal elected leaders is a greater threat to democracy than if they were to crush it with tanks in the city square."
■ Given what just happened in Brazil, with a failed apparent coup attempt, and what could of course happen elsewhere, it's timely to remember that adherence to rules and norms is essential to keeping elections within the boundaries of intellectual disagreement. The contest of ideas must be kept from coming to literal blows, and the provocateur shouldn't have a veto against any democracy, no matter how young.
■ The former Secretary of State also noted, "America's Founding Fathers understood that liberty was the necessary condition for citizens to find fulfillment. It is not, however, sufficient." No form of government would be worth its salt without a commitment to liberties, but liberties have to coexist with democratic processes and with civic responsibilities if they are to endure.