Can't Wait to Have Students Read This

There’s an interesting op-ed in Thursday’s New York Times, “Why China’s Political Model Is Superior.” The author Eric X. Li, makes some claims in it that are beyond radical from an American perspective:

In the history of human governance, spanning thousands of years, there have been two major experiments in democracy. The first was Athens, which lasted a century and a half; the second is the modern West. If one defines democracy as one citizen one vote, American democracy is only 92 years old. In practice it is only 47 years old, if one begins counting after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — far more ephemeral than all but a handful of China’s dynasties.

The power of this piece for helping students develop is that its perspective is so radically foreign.  Were any US politician to write such a piece, their career would be over.  This might even be true for academics.  It completely challenges most of the assumptions of  American political discourse, and therefore will be useful to help students a) make those assumptions plain and b) really think critically about the extent to which America is democratic.  I’m looking forward to an in-depth discussion of it in a Socratic Seminar with students in the coming weeks, and will be saving it for use in all future social studies courses I teach.