American democracy is under strain.
Public disenchantment with democracy as a system of government has grown consistently in recent decades, with Gallup surveys showing a large decline of confidence in democratic institutions. The number of Americans having confidence in citizens to make good judgments “under our democratic system” is at a historic low of 56 percent. An alarming 40 percent of the population has “lost faith” in U.S. democracy, according to a poll published in the Washington Post last year. The levels of frustration reflected in these surveys — all pre-Trump administration — reveal the preconditions for dark political developments. The imperative to understand their causes could not be greater.