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10 pieces of art to inspire you this election

art about democracy

In a year that has featured tumultuous debates about the very essence of our country, artists of all sorts have responded with an explosion of creativity.

There's been a wave of work: dramatic murals protesting the killing of Black people by police, songs celebrating President Trump and also mocking him, videos urging people to vote. There have been elaborate embroidered messages of protest and contests to design "I voted" stickers.


The outpouring of inventiveness reflects the passions evoked by a presidential election, overlaid on a health crisis with debates about racial justice and fundamental democratic principles thrown in the mix. The slideshow here is but a tiny sampling.

Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan student political reform group, sees art as key to their work and to building community.

"Art can inspire, shock, heal and express emotion," the group's website says. "It engages the senses and stimulates the mind. When art is seen as a core element of encouraging social action, its power moves from a source aesthetic appreciation to a strong political tool."

Diane Mullin, curator at the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, has said that "art can teach us or demonstrate things about democracy."

"But art can also participate in democracy because artists are in very important ways contributors to discourse, and contributors to our society," she said said back when her museum was preparing for the 2008 Republican convention in Minneapolis and St. Paul. "So they can put forth proposals and propositions to make us think about things, to make us think about where we live, how we live."

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This summer the nearby Minnesota Museum of American Art hosted an online forum of "Black Art in the Era of Protest." One key issue in the discussion was how to preserve the murals and other public displays that may end up being painted over or dismantled.

Here then is a gallery offering a glimpse of the artistic response to the election, racial injustice and the other existential questions about the state of democracy the nation is facing this year.

The art of a movement

George Floyd mural

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

After the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by Minneapolis police officers, murals of all shapes and sizes have popped up across the country. This one in Brooklyn is by Haitian-American artist Kenny Altido, who's known for painting murals of fallen police and firefighters.

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Flag being held out in front of Trump tower

Donald Trump supporters demonstrate in front of Trump Tower in New York a day after the former president was injured during shooting at campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Democracy 2.0 will focus on compassion, not violence

By Sam Daley Harris

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Secret Service agents covering Trump

Secret service agents cover former President Donald Trump after he was wounded in an assassination attempt July 13.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

It takes a team

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We love heroic leaders. We admire heroes and trust them to tackle our big problems. In a way, we like the heroes to take care of those problems for us, relieving us of our citizen responsibilities. But what happens when our leaders fail us? How do we replace a heroic leader who has become bloated with ego? Or incompetent?

Heroic leaders are good for certain times and specific challenges, like uniting people against a common enemy. We find their charisma and inspiration compelling. They help us find our courage to tackle things together. We become a team, supporting the hero’s vision.

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Project 2025: U.S. Agency for International Development

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is part of a series offering a nonpartisan counter to Project 2025, a conservative guideline to reforming government and policymaking during the first 180 days of a second Trump administration. The Fulcrum's cross partisan analysis of Project 2025 relies on unbiased critical thinking, reexamines outdated assumptions, and uses reason, scientific evidence, and data in analyzing and critiquing Project 2025.

South African divestment is the most famous, and likely most successful, global pressure campaign in recent memory. The enemy was the minority white elites who conceived, implemented and perpetuated apartheid, the incomprehensibly malevolent scheme of legally sanctioned racial separation. These racists got their just desserts when company after company, government after government, and individual after individual pulled their resources. Eventually, the South African economy strained, leaders were toppled and the country began its long march toward moral reclamation.

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American flag
SimpleImages/Getty Images

Quite simply, fairness matters

Sturner, the author of “Fairness Matters,” is the managing partner of Entourage Effect Capital. Meyers is the executive editor of The Fulcrum.

This is the first entry in the “Fairness Matters” series, examining structural problems with the current political systems, critical policies issues that are going unaddressed and the state of the 2024 election.

Our path forward as a nation requires that we send a resounding message to Washington that fairness matters. That proportional representation needs to be the heart and soul of our political system because, right now, the far left and the far right are disproportionately represented. Meanwhile, "we the people" are not nearly as polarized as our legislatures, and that is by design.

The absence of fairness (some real and some perceived) is driving the political dysfunction in our country today. The vast majority of the American public wakes up every day and we go to work. We are moderate in our views on most issues, mostly just to the right or left of center. Most of us value common sense in our lives and strive to find a way to peacefully get through our days, to enable us to care for our loved ones while trying to make better lives for ourselves and our children.

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