September 18, 2021

Entropy and American Democracy

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

A Clear and Present Danger

Benjamin Franklin, whose formal education ended at age ten, was America’s first world-class scientist and a wise and beloved statesman. He wouldn’t have known about the law of entropy in physics because the term didn’t come into use for another seventy-eight years following his death in 1790. But his perceptiveness was on sharp display when he told the nation you have a Republic if you can keep it.

 The “if” in his pronouncement was both remarkably perceptive and immensely foreboding. Whether we can keep our republic, our democracy, is very much open to question. There seems to be a principle that over time, man-made and conceived order often devolves into disorder or chaos. In physics, the law of entropy teaches that a closed system gradually declines into disorder. Every galaxy, indeed, even the universe itself, has a finite life according to the laws of physics. Perhaps, that is equally true of any system conceived by man that relies on human nature to determine the durability of a society’s political and social life.

Fortunately, the survivability of our democracy is not independently preordained by the laws of physics or thermal dynamics. That is, we can protect our democracy for as long as we choose or, of course, abuse it at its (and our) peril.

Sadly, abusing our democracy has become political sport. It is a game in which everyone who cherishes our republic will eventually lose. And no, the abuse about which I write is not the exclusive franchise of the Left or the Right. American democracy is facing a clear and present danger. Like an out-of-control virus, malevolent political behavior is slowly but surely eroding the very sinews of our democracy. These excesses are not new in our history. What is new are the tools to exploit these excesses and the abundance of self-aggrandizing politicians and other power-seekers eager to exploit these means for their own selfish and destructive gain.

On the left, we have a growing and aggressive cancel culture that tolerates no deviation from the demands of the priests and priestesses of the prevailing woke ethos. The wholesale denigration of the great American experiment has gained favor because there was, and continues, a stubborn residue of intolerance and inequity in its story. America is the wealthiest country in the world, but its riches have always resided in great concentration, and exceptionally so today. Upward mobility has always been a hallmark of America, but the upward trek has grown much steeper, the path narrower and the obstacles abundant.

Laws are enacted and enforced to protect civil order, and they are essential to the orderly functioning of a sane and safe society. Our society must insist on the fair, consistent and dedicated administration of justice in America. That probably means enhanced, not diminished, funding for law enforcement so that the compensation provided for those enforcing and administering the law will attract the very best candidates available for this essential public service. Demands to defund law enforcement only contribute to societal entropy and do nothing to strengthen civil order or respect for the very laws that are enacted to protect us.  

Many cities were slow to react to extreme urban disorder following the murder of George Floyd and arson and looting were rampant in many American cities. This, too, represents a body blow to civic law and order, without which the American experiment is greatly diminished.

Conversely, on the far-right, there is an unhealthy obsession with, and pursuit of, power—the coveting of it, and the no-holds-barred determination to capture it and hold on to it by any means, including demagoguery and, if need be, it seems insurrection as well.

To be sure, both political parties covet power, but never in our history have we seen such an attempted abuse of political power. Never before in our history has a defeated president referred to his lost election as a “third-world-country election like we’ve never seen before.” Never before in our history has a President acquiesced, indeed, urged such anti-democratic, illegal, and unamerican behavior as when former President Trump told his January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally, “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”

Think of it; we had a president who had decisively lost an election, urge a crowd to go to the United States Capitol, and “fight like hell” to interrupt the constitutionally mandated counting and certification of the election results. Results that had been duly certified by each of the fifty states and attested to by every state governor, the majority of whom were (and still are) Republicans.

This, after his own Department of Homeland Security and his own Department of Justice, failed to find any case of election fraud that would have altered the results of the election. In fact, the official at the Department of Homeland Security responsible for election security considered the 2020 election the most secure election in our modern history. Indeed, not one of the sixty-one judges, many of whom were Republicans, found sufficient reason to indulge Trump’s attack on our constitutional democracy.

Furthermore, nearly all of the Republicans in Congress, after fleeing from the assault on the Capitol on January 6th, now pay homage to former President Trump who called for the insurrection in the first place. This fealty to a defeated President who insists that he was the victim of the greatest election hoax in history in the complete absence of any credible evidence of any hoax at all is unprecedented in American history. It represents nothing less than an assault on our democracy by a former President of the United States and his enablers in Congress.

And, finally, we have the unprecedented degree to which demagoguery had permeated the language of the oval office.

Harry Truman, one of our most underrated presidents, once mused aloud, “I sit and shiver… at the thought of what could happen with some demagogue in this office I hold.” Indeed!

In physics, entropy, the second law of thermal dynamics, is considered immutable. Let’s pray political entropy isn’t as well.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the essay’s subject or are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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7 responses to “Entropy and American Democracy”

  1. Perry says:

    The loss of our Republic is more evident than ever due to our
    lack of educational standards and recognition of achievement
    by both teachers and students. As a nation we are ranked in
    education worldwide somewhere in the 40’s this is shameful
    as well as destructive to our survival as a nation.

    Without a knowledgeable voting electorate we will most certainly lose our Republic as the voters are duped by the news, media, P.R. campaigns to vote for programs and candidates whom fail in their jobs. We return office holders
    and seek little knowledge of their ability to govern or knowledge of their ability to understand their true role.
    I have often asked my server in restaurants “What is the name
    of our Senator’s or what is the name of our Governor” and 90%
    of the time they have no clue whatsoever…….None.

    Today in schools not only do they not teach Civics in school
    but also the teacher’s themselves are devoid of knowledge.
    With the great divide between rich and poor and the harmful
    influence in D.C. from “Insiders” we do not even nominate
    the best of the field but the “Most popular” and then only by
    the true power of the party, be they Democrat or Republican.
    One can judge clearly by the current administration that no one is responsible for Inflation, Homelessness. Military disaster decisions or every held accountable. not to mention
    our mounting National Debt.

    More and more the power of an unseen beau acracy in our system is choking the power of both our constitutional rights and our ability to enjoy our freedoms along with loss of
    opportunity for all to prosper.

    To blame Trump for the loss of our Republic is simplistic.
    We were losing it long before his bombastic words were
    uttered. It’s time to face reality and turn off the printing presses of both money distribution
    by extremes of both parties. I believe it is problematic that
    our Republic can be saved but it is incumbent to look and quit
    voting straight tickets and always just one party.

    One cannot name one achievement of the current administration, but continue to find excuses in blaming Trump
    for our troubles. We must look at the true loss of culture , respect, morality, patriotism , along with abysmal leadership
    in D.C.

    We are choking to death with Government debt driven by special interests of course and little interest by a gluttony

  2. Cydney Osterman says:

    Thanks Perry. Cydney

  3. m kaback md says:

    A note to Perry and Cydney,

    While you are certainly entitled to the sentiments you express regarding responsibility for the mess our democracy is in, what is unique about our current situation is that Trump is the ONLY blatant SOCIOPATH ever elected to the Presidency. How much damage he and his cultists in congress can continue to do to our society and our constitutional democracy only remains to be seen. That is unless people in this land wake up to the real dangers which are afoot (with many thanks to the narcissist of the past administration and his sycophants for their enormous contributions)!!

  4. Stuart Goldfine says:

    Perry is 100% correct. Biden is not pulling our nation together, but doing the opposite and he is not a leader, simply a puppet of the left.

    Our educational system, from elementary through college is poor and ignoring history, civics, math, art, music classes is wrong; instead we substitute nonsense, change history books, and teach Antifa type classes.

    I did some volunteer teaching and kids from grade 2-5th grades did not know multiplication tables, geography, handwriting, and many other simple educational tools. Kids must use their brains, not their computers, I-Pads, Alexa, or Siri for their answers.

  5. Steve says:

    Hal, you’ve captured what’s going on, and it’s danger to our democracy, perfectly. Congratulations for putting the “pieces” together for us all to see. I fear, unfortunately, it may be too late. DJT has always blamed his opponents/adversaries for doing the same things he himself is guilty of.

  6. evg says:

    Please, get over Trump. Concentrate on all the damage done by Biden and those behind him pulling the stings. ….the debacle in Afghanistan where he left billions worth of armaments and bundles of cash , and brought plane loads of immigrants to our country, the open or nonexistent border with thousands of immigrants wearing no masks and no doubt infected with diseases and Covid, changing the use of our language by using “Birthing people” instead of “mother”, a plan to tax our middle class out of existence, running the printing presses in the mint to make our currency worthless etc. etc. Note that the first planes out of Afghanistan were full of natives, but not native green card holders nor any Americans. Had there been any, the media would have interviewed some That is just one tragedy of lies by the administration. Question: why are the 14,000 Haitians sitting under the bridge in Texas being flown back to their home country while the rest on the southern border are being allowed to disburse themselves throughout the USA?

  7. BLB says:

    Well stated Perry, Stuart, evg…. I totally echo your sentiments. And, I will say it again…. Get Over Trump!!
    Most conservatives have already. I find it disgusting and demeaning to lump everyone into a category of still being a Trump follower. Perhaps you should confer with some of those people’s ideas instead of continuing the same old babble.
    There is SO MUCH MORE to discuss and write about that to pull up old talking points, like Mr Newsome did in the last days of his campaign. Face reality in this administration in CA and in the White House.
    As a current resident of Texas, I couldn’t be more appalled and disgusted with the border CRISIS, which is out of control. I am fearful of what could happen in the coming days. Hopefully the return of the 14,000 is just the start in trying to get some law and order established at the border and in our immigration system. My heart goes out to the Texas DPS and all the residents along the border. Our government is failing them miserably!!!

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