The Year We Saved Our Democracy

It is we the people who must save it

Kevin Donovan
6 min readJan 12, 2024
Image by Maria Dryfhout / purchased by the author

History can be gauzy — these experiences we have of the there-and-then within the here and now.

We haven’t mastered time travel yet, and so we struggle and strive to imagine what it must have been like at a time and place far from our own, when fellow humans presumably just like us faced a challenge which, in hindsight, seems unfathomable today.

How, for example, did those men bring themselves to storm the beaches in Normandy in 1944? Could we have done that?

How did someone like John Lewis bring himself to cross a bridge in 1965 with the knowledge there was a good chance he would be beaten to death by a mob? Could we have done that?

How did legions of women continue to fight and persist against the systemic misogyny that attempted to deny them every opportunity to which they were entitled over the last century-and-a-half? Could we have done that?

Many historical examples point to a larger question: What was it about the many men and women that gave them the courage to put their lives on the line for freedom and democracy? These were generally people who we would consider “normal” — people just like us — but we still wonder, could we have done that?



Kevin Donovan

Where there is great fear, there is no empathy. Where there is great empathy, there is no fear.