Ukraine reminds us why democracy is worth fighting for


Until recently, the passion animating democratic forces appeared to be waning, and the notion that democracy is in an irreversible crisis was beginning to take hold. If that slide seems to have been at least partly arrested of late, the primary cause is Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s brutal 2022 invasion, notes Marc F. Plattner, a member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Board of Directors:

The bravery of Ukrainians and their resolve to defend not only their land but also their fledgling democratic institutions have inspired defenders of freedom everywhere. They have renewed the sense that democracy is not just a worthy form of government but also makes possible a way of life worth fighting for. President Zelensky has demonstrated that democracy still can give birth to statesmanlike and eloquent leaders, capable of stirring and elevating the passions of their people.

Some have criticized the Ukrainians for their encouragement of nationalist feelings. I think this criticism is largely misplaced, he writes for the Journal of Democracy:

  • First of all, it is hard to see how any democratic nation at war can avoid an appeal to nationalism.
  • Second, Ukrainian nationalism has mostly taken a civic rather than an ethnic form. The patriotic passions spurred by the war are more likely to bolster than to undermine Ukraine’s ability to build a democratic future.

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