Happy Fourth of July weekend! Hundreds of millions of Americans are celebrating the birth of our country, but recent events are fostering questions about the well-being of our democratic republic. As concerned citizens, we share our opinions.

Whether spurred by the presidential debate, a dysfunctional Congress or a Supreme Court acting on controversial issues, many citizens are questioning the political health of our nation. Is the republic in jeopardy?

Pignanelli: “Democracy is a small hard core of common agreement, surrounded by a rich variety of individual differences.” — James Bryant Conant

Frequently, I encounter good people ranging from octogenarians to young adults who suggest the divisive acrimony in politics is hastening our nation’s doom. I usually reply with an obnoxious, patronizing tone suggesting peaceful, nonconfrontational political discourse is enjoyed in Beijing, Moscow, Havana, Tehran, Pyongyang, etc. They always — sometimes begrudgingly — get my point.

Democracy is both a horror and a beauty to behold. Hundreds of millions of Americans are expressing (often shouting) their opinions in various means daily. The clamor can be articulate and thoughtful or overly zealous and devoid of facts. Americans argue because that is the essence of who we are, having challenged the largest global superpower 248 years ago to secure this right. Quarrelling describes us. But what does not define us are two guys on the debate stage or the craziness in Congress.

Concern and frustration are natural feelings. But the realistic (and healthier) approach is to appreciate that millions are contributing to the civic dialogue without fear of retribution. Most conversation is done in reverence to those documents that bind us, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Many will disagree with my analysis, and I am glad for that. The Republic remains strong because of us loyal and argumentative citizens.

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Webb: Our country has survived far more dangerous crises than the challenges we face today. We will overcome and endure. However, we must not underestimate or downplay our current difficulties. Democracy is fragile. Our country is divided and the dysfunctional Congress can’t realistically address, let alone solve, the nation’s most difficult issues.

Insolvency threatens Social Security and other entitlement programs, federal debt levels are dangerous, world affairs are as precarious as any time since the Cold War, responsible immigration policy is elusive, society faces serious disruption from social media and artificial intelligence and we’re enduring a presidential election featuring two greatly disliked geriatric candidates who are living in the past.

Despite all that, I am still optimistic about our future and I have faith we will survive and thrive. However, at this point in our politics we can’t make tough, foundational changes until crisis is literally at our doorstep. More pain is ahead before our federal policymakers come together, compromise and make tough decisions.

Utahns just endured hotly contested Republican primaries for many federal, state and local offices. What does the tone of the races and the outcomes say about our state’s politics?

Pignanelli: The GOP is the dominant political party in the state, but the primaries reveal deep fractures. These were fair elections, despite undocumented allegations suggesting otherwise.

This is another positive element of democracy.

Webb: Some of the races turned negative and unpleasant. But that’s fairly normal these days. For the most part, reason triumphed and serious, common-sense candidates prevailed. In the contest between the fringes and the political center, the mainstream won. Our state is in good hands and our state future is bright.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 40-year-old “Chevron deference” doctrine, which gave judicial deference to federal agencies when a statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to a specific issue. Will this strengthen or weaken our democracy?

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Pignanelli: There are federal initiatives supported by both parties which were modified by overreaching agency actions pursuant to this doctrine. Removing the doctrine is controversial but provides a benefit. Our nation is confronting massive challenges (aging population, climate change, health care costs, global enemies, etc.). The Court’s decision eliminates an administrative recourse and compels federal lawmakers to deliberate details.

Democracy demands such issues are debated, with policies developed, in the appropriate arenas: public discourse, the Capitol and the judiciary. Consequently, there will be more heated policy arguments conducted in congressional or judicial settings — as contemplated by the Constitution.

Webb: This matter might seem esoteric, but it is a great victory for our country. It will strengthen states in their battles with federal agencies. It will motivate Congress to do its job and not leave major decisions and initiatives to the administrative state. It will mean more key decisions are made by elected leaders, not bureaucrats. It is a landmark decision that will begin to create a better balance in our federal system.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a former journalist and a semi-retired small farmer and political consultant. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser who served as a Democrat in the Utah State Legislature. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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