I was listening to coverage in the US of Pelosi vs “The Squad” (aka the four freshmen congresswomen who are taking flak from the Trump administration for being outspoken and not being white) and it struck me that we are seeing a powerful, generational split between Baby Boomers and Millenials in terms of what a democracy is.

It would seem that Pelosi and others of her generation (e.g. Mitch McConnel) see democracy as the battle between two powerful political parties, whereas The Squad represents a diverse group of individuals who don’t put party before politics. In other words, does power reside in a hierarchy that pushes from the top down or from grassroots movements from the bottom up?

It is my understanding that the Founding Fathers feared the rise of political parties and how they could pervert the course of a Republic. I would imagine then that they’d be in favour of a governing elite who represented the political will of the people and allowed for dissent to be discussed openly in the town square. That is the essence of a liberal democracy wherein consensus is a virtue and not a weakness.

Pelosi believes that her caucus should keep its opinions to itself and only have disagreements in private. The Squad represents the diversity of opinion being discussed out in the open in order to challenge the status quo and effect grassroots action. They are two very different visions of how democracy works and how power should be exercised.