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Historically Speaking: Democracy in America

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

By Will Bellaimey:

Happy Fourth of July!

Will Bellaimey is back to talk about the state of Democracy in the USA and encourage you to never give up the fight for freedom!

Watch the latest installment of Historically Speaking with Will Bellaimey

or read the transcript below!


I’m Will Bellaimey, and I’m here for the latest in our series Historically Speaking, where we’re making connections between things that have happened in the past, which is what I teach about as a history teacher, and what’s happening in the news.

It's often my job at the end of the year as a history teacher to try to sum things up in some way. And I had my seniors ask me to try to give a hopeful speech about American democracy. On the one hand, I think I would be lying if I didn't say that we're in a really serious moment of peril; but, as always, I think the best thing we can say is that every generation has had to face some version of fear about the very basis of our democratic system. And if we thought that our generation was gonna be exempt from that, then we didn't really know our history.

People fighting in the Civil Rights Movement, like a young John Lewis, didn't think, Oh, cool, I'll take to the streets one time. And then within a year, everything will be better. And then I can go on and, you know, join a startup or do something else with my life. I think true people who care about equality and justice understand that they're gonna fight their entire lives and then hand it off to the next generation.

We have to have the patience and the worldview that this is not going to get better overnight. And if you're finding yourself feeling exhausted, then both take a break and pay attention to what kind of media you're consuming that's making you feel afraid and hopeless—because that's often what gets a lot of clicks—but also look back at all of the people who have faced gathering storms in the past and have pushed through and made it so that we're sitting here talking about the same questions and the same hopes for the future.


Will Bellaimey teaches U.S. Government and Politics at Flintridge Prep School outside Los Angeles where he is also the director of the Los Angeles Museum of Geography, which is staffed entirely by seventh graders. His podcast, All the Presidents, Man, is available here.

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