Is US Democracy on Life Support?

The United States is one of the world’s longest and most successful democracies, persisting through world crises, power shifts, and world realignments.

However, US politics is more polarized now than ever before - electoral voting patterns typically consist of “My party’s candidate above all else”, congressional voting patterns typically consist of “My party’s bill above all else”, and so forth. Correspondingly, many congresspeople focus more on stymieing the opposition than on achieving anything. Likewise, there is less filter on poor candidates, since voters are extremely hesitant to vote against anyone from their party, no matter how bad.

Furthermore, the state of political discourse has declined - politicians no longer maintain the decorum and respect of one another that they once did. Referring to opponents as criminals without evidence

Perhaps most dangerous of all, politicians (especially the current President) no longer follow the unwritten rules, norms, the things “we just don’t do”, and suffer no obvious consequences. These actions include permanent “acting” cabinet secretaries to avoid the confirmation process, clearly politically motivated firings of the Vindmans and others, and refusals to consider nominees based only on the party of the nominator.

That being said, the United States political process is resilient. No dramatic collapse has happened, and the actually actions being taken aren’t particularly different from what might have happened in other times. Maybe these problems don’t actually matter that much.

Moreover, political systems correct slowly, and these problems have only existed in their present forms for under ten years. Maybe things will improve, eventually.

How severe are the problems with the US democracy? What other problems are there besides the ones I’ve mentioned? Do these problems constitute an existential threat to US democracy?

What can we do to improve the situation? Do we need to try to change our discourse? Support different politicians or movements? Change the incentive structures? Do something else?