But while all of these authors make some room for recent disruptions—the growth of inequality, the rise of social media, the backlash against immigration—they share a view that formed during the Cold War and seemed vindicated in 1989: that “democracy” means a cleaned-up version of what we do in the United States, complete with American-style capitalism, a word that hardly appears in these books because it is so deeply assumed.
In this line of thought, which dates back at least to Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s 1949 The Vital Center, a crisis of democracy requires a high-minded defense of the principled political center against the extremes of left and right.
But what makes the system work, and what breaks it?
These are urgent questions that were too easy for pundits to ignore before Trump made them unavoidable.
Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum Harper Collins, 2018, 320 pp. 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. 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. All are organized around the shock of Trump’s victory.
Antipluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy by William A. One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported by E. Through this prism of moral and political affront, the light of more distant events coalesced into a pattern. Countries that had seemed quite disparate or outside the American media’s line of vision altogether became warnings of democracy’s capacity for self-dissolution: post-Chávez Venezuela, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, and Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.
Even when norms do not lean to the right—for instance, the norm of honoring previous Supreme Court decisions is part of the reason the right to abortion established in Roe v.
Wade has not been overturned—they are a depoliticized way of talking about political conflict.
If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.
If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.and *.are unblocked.