Defending Democracy Is About More Than Norms

Defending Democracy Is About More Than Norms

The proliferating “crisis-of-democracy” literature, like the Fast and the Furiousfranchise, has only one plot. And, like the crash-up car-chase movies, it has not let this fact slow its growth. How Democracies Die, by Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, and The People Versus Democracy, by Harvard instructor Yascha Mounk, are just two of the emblematic titles, along with entries by George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum (Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic), political theorist and Clinton adviser William Galston (Antipluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy), and a three-handed work, One Nation After Trump, by commentators E.J. Dionne, Norman Ornstein, and Thomas Mann. Readers may already have noticed that all these authors are, like your reviewer, white men credentialed by the establishment institutions whose “liberal tears” are jet-fuel in the engines of Trumpism. One of the telling things about the crisis-of-democracy literature is that it presents itself as the voice of the reason, calling the people back to their principles. It isn't clear who is listening.

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