Conservatives might think of the task of the present as going beyond shrinking the size of the federal government: Instead, it involves the nurturing of those institutions, norms, and principles that make the life of a free republic possible. This nurturing does not relate only to policy or affairs of the state, but politics does play a role in it. Some of the key traits that have helped support the American republic include the respect for our individual dignities as human beings, religious and cultural pluralism and toleration, a vibrant middle class, a sense of accessible opportunity, a respect for past achievements, and a hopefulness for the future. Many of these traits have been challenged in recent years, and many could be strengthened anew.Serendipitously, Matt Yglesias at Vox makes a rather different case, arguing that American democracy is "doomed."
I'm a bit more optimistic than Yglesias and will (hopefully) have some more thoughts on the matter soon.