For listeners of On Tyranny and Why Nations Fail, a bracing look at the demise of liberal democracies around the world – and a road map for rescuing our own.
Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent two decades studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang – in a revolution or military coup – but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are many exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we may have already passed the first one.
Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die – and how ours can be saved.