Democracy, its failures, weaknesses, and sins notwithstanding,nis the only political system in which the entire social bodynis to decide on who should conduct its affeirs in its name. Bynthe electoral process the majority’s opinion is consecrated as ansource of legitimate political power. Annals record manynvariations of democratic societies in which the fate ofnminorities was either precarious, or hypocritically manipulated,nas long as they were unable to transform themselves intonmajorities. Bursting into history, and into human awarenessneverywhere on earth, America made clear that the rights,nprerogatives, and anxieties of her minorities were hernparamount concern. However, a moral precondition for ancorrectly functioning American democracy was thenassumption that the legally outvoted minority loyally acceptsnthe ballot’s verdict and fairly considers the elected officials asntheir authority throughout the constitutionally prescribednperiod of government.nHow does this fragile arrangement, laden with endlessnconflicts, survive in our current political reality and on thenpresent electoral scene?nBarely. A healthy respect for minority opinion has beennChronicles of Culturen. THE ELECTION •nC 0 M M i: N Innntransformed into acquiescence to the nonnegotiable demandsnof every ethnic group and to the shrill promulgations ofnbehavioral minorities whose sexual ideology successMlynnegotiates the stormy seas of political showdowns. Consequently,na picture that emerges from chaos tells us enoughnabout how the American society &ces its 1984 political rites.nTo begin with, serious political discourse is as good as out.nVulgar stridency, accusatory insults, and sophomoricncallousness are in. They constitute the main weapon of thenminorities and of those parts of society which became knownnas interest grotips. In the previous election, no one demonstratednagainst President Carter proclaiming that he wasneating babies for breakfest: people went to the polling boothsnwhere they formed a majority and routed the incumbent. As itnappears that the majority of Americans lean toward PresidentnReagan, a coalition of minorities and interest groups has turnednto a fishwife’s tactical warfare. Their vituperations arenenthusiastically supported by the liberal media, which bynnature turn the sheer quantity of incriminations into a newnpolitical quality. The people who run the evening news neverncease to assure us that the din of protest is a sign of thenrobustness of American public life.nX he National Convention of the Democratic Party ended onna note of gushy, overbearing patriotism. It did not comenunexpected: speaker after speaker invoked patriotism both asnterm and notion. Patriotism is an easy word, susceptible tonevery possible perversion, but it also is a complex sentimentnwhich can be endlessly trivialized. Jacobins used it as ancatchword. Marx and later Lenin denounced it as a source ofnvice and infamy, its negation was the supreme communistnvirtue. Stalin lifted it up from the dialectical gutter of bourgeoisniniquities in order to mobilize the Russian masses duringnWorld War II, and, suddenly, communist subversives, ultraleftistnterrorists, and professional revolutionaries all began toncall themselves patriots. What’s worse, the liberal media allnover the West started to do exactly the same, therebyndistorting, obscuring, and twisting the meaning and sensibilitynvested in patriotism’s concept and content. Johnson’sndefinition of patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel begannto take on new meaning.nThere’s no reason to doubt the character, caliber, and virtuenof the Democratic Party’s patriotism; its love of the native soilnwhether it is covered by fields and meadows or the big citynconcrete, its dedication to the fundamental American idealsnand tenets. It is a party whose leaders were presiding whennAmerica entered four wars during this century, each timenpainfully involving their sometimes tormented, but alwaysnwell-intentioned, perception of the American national interest.nYet, in 1972, the Democratic Party had renounced, quitendeliberately, both in spirit and rhetoric its title to patriotism, bynembracing the darker social forces of the era, and nominatingn