How Democracies Die Prime –

We tend to think of democracies dying at the hands of men with guns During the Cold War, coups dtat accounted for nearly three out of every four democratic breakdowns, andrecently, military coups toppled Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi inand Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra inIn these cases democracy dissolved in spectacular fashion, through military power and coercion But there is another way to break a democracy It is less dramatic but equally destructive In Venezuela, for example, Hugo Chvez was a political outsider who railed against what he cast as a corrupt governing elite, promising to build aauthentic democracy that used the countrys vast oil wealth to improve the lives of the poor Skillfully tapping into the anger of ordinary Venezuelans, many of whom felt ignored or mistreated by the established political parties, Chvez was elected president inAs a woman in Chvezs home state of Barinas put it on election night, Democracy is infected And Chvez is the only antibiotic we have When Chvez launched his promised revolution, he did so democratically In , he held free elections for a new constituent assembly, in which his allies won an overwhelming majority It wasnt untilthat Chvez took his first clear steps toward authoritarianism, stalling a referendum that would have recalled him from office In , the government blacklisted those who had signed the recall petition and packed the supreme court The chavista regime grewrepressive after , closing a major television station, arresting or exiling opposition politicians, judges, and media figures on dubious charges, and eliminating presidential term limits so that Chvez could remain in power indefinitely After Chvezs death a year later, his successor, Nicols Maduro, won another questionable reelection It was only when a new single party constituent assembly usurped the power of Congress in , nearly two decades after Chvez first won the presidency, that Venezuela was widely recognized as an autocracy This is how democracies now die Blatant dictatorshipin the form of fascism, communism, or military rulehas disappeared across much of the world Military coups and other violent seizures of power are rare Most countries hold regular elections Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves Like Chvez in Venezuela, elected leaders have subverted democratic institutions in Georgia, Hungary, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Ukraine Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box How vulnerable is American democracy to this form of breakdown The foundations of our democracy are certainly stronger than those in Venezuela, Turkey, or Hungary But are they strong enough Answering such a question requires stepping back from daily headlines and breaking news alerts to widen our view, drawing lessons from the experiences of other democracies around the world and throughout history We know that extremist demagogues emerge from time to time in all societies, even in healthy democracies The United States has had its share of them, including Henry Ford, Huey Long, Joseph McCarthy, and George Wallace An essential test for democracies is not whether such figures emerge but whether political leaders, and especially political parties, work to prevent them from gaining power in the first placeby keeping them off mainstream party tickets, refusing to endorse or align with them, and when necessary, making common cause with rivals in support of democratic candidates Once a wouldbe authoritarian makes it to power, democracies face a second critical test Will the autocratic leader subvert democratic institutions or be constrained by them America failed the first test in November , when we elected a president with a dubious allegiance to democratic norms How serious is the threat now Many observers take comfort in our Constitution, which was designed precisely to thwart and contain demagogues like Donald Trump Our Madisonian system of checks and balances has endured forthan two centuries It survived the Civil War, the Great Depression, the Cold War, and Watergate Surely, then, it will be able to survive Trump We are less certain Historically, our system of checks and balances has worked pretty well but not, or not entirely, because of the constitutional system designed by the founders Democracies work best and survive longer where constitutions are reinforced by unwritten democratic norms Two basic norms have preserved Americas checks and balances in ways we have come to take for granted mutual toleration, or the understanding that competing parties accept one another as legitimate rivals, and forbearance, or the idea that politicians should exercise restraint in deploying their institutional prerogatives The erosion of our democratic norms began in the s and s and accelerated in the s By the time Barack Obama became president, many Republicans, in particular, questioned the legitimacy of their Democratic rivals and had abandoned forbearance for a strategy of winning by any means necessary Donald Trump may have accelerated this process, but he didnt cause it The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization one that ex tends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture And if one thing is clear from studying breakdowns throughout history, its that extreme polarization can kill democracies There are, therefore, reasons for alarm Not only did Americans elect a demagogue in , but we did so at a time when the norms that once protected our democracy were already coming unmoored But if other countries experiences teach us how democracies can die at the hands of elected officials, they also teach us that breakdown is neither inevitable nor irreversible Many Americans are justifiably frightened by what is happening to our country But protecting our democracy requiresthan just fright or outrage We must be humble and bold We must learn from other countries to see the warning signs and recognize the false alarms We must be aware of the fateful missteps that have wrecked other democracies And we must see how citizens have risen to meet the great democratic crises of the past, overcoming their own deep seated divisions to avert breakdown History doesnt repeat itself But it rhymes The promise of history, and the hope of this book, is that we can find the rhymes before it is too late Reprinted from HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE Copyrightby Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt Published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLCWinner of the Goldsmith Book PrizeShortlisted for theLionel Gelber PrizeA Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book ofA Time Best Nonfiction Book ofA Foreign Affairs Best Book of A WBUR Best Book of A Paste Best Nonfiction Book of A New York Times Book Review Best Book Cover of A New York Times Book ReviewEditors ChoiceThe best death of democracy book I read in Carlos Lozada, Washington PostLevitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies have collapsed elsewherenot just through violent coups, butcommonly and insidiously through a gradual slide into authoritarianism How Democracies Die is a lucid and essential guide towhat can happen here New York TimesIf you want to understand whats happening to our country, the book you really need to read is How Democracies DiePaul KrugmanThe defining political book, so far, ofThe Philadelphia Inquirer Were already awash in public indignationwhat we desperately need is a sober, dispassionate look at the current state of affairs Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, two of the most respected scholars in the field of democracy studies, offer just that TheWashington PostWhere Levitsky and Ziblatt make their mark is in weaving together political science and historical analysis of both domestic and international democratic crises in doing so, they expand the conversation beyond Trump and before him, to other countries and to the deep structure of American democracy and politicsEzra Klein, Vox Fair warning reading Levitsky and Ziblatt will leave you very, very unsettled They make a powerful case that we really and truly are in uncharted territory, living in a moment when the line between difficult times and dark times has blurred Washington MonthlyIf you only read one book for the rest of the year, read How Democracies DieThis is not a book for just Democrats or Republicans It is a book for all Americans It is nonpartisan It is fact based It is deeply rooted in history the best commentary on our politics, no contest Michael Morrell, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency via Twitter A smart and deeply informed book about the ways in which democracy is being undermined in dozens of countries around the world, and in ways that are perfectly legal Fareed Zakaria, CNNCarefully researched and persuasive the authors show the fragility of even the best democracies and also caution politicians who think they can somehow co opt autocrats without getting burned How Democracies Die provides a guide for Americans of all political persuasions for what to avoid USA TodayScholarly and readable, alarming and level headed the greatest of the many merits of Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatts contribution to what will doubtless be the ballooning discipline of democracy death studies is their rejection of western exceptionalism There are no vaccines in American or, I would add, British culture that protects us just ways of doing business that now feel decrepit The Guardian An important new book Nicholas Kristof,New York TimesThe political science text in vogue this winter is How Democracies DieThe New Yorker How Democracies Die studies the modern history of apparently healthy democracies that have slid into autocracy It is hard to read this fine book without coming away terribly concerned about the possibility Trump might inflict a mortal wound on the health of the republic It is simplistic to expect boots marching in the streets, but there will be a battle for democracyJonathan Chait, New York MagazineThe great strength of Levitsky and Ziblatts How Democracies Die is that it rejects the exceptionalist account of US democracy Their lens is comparative The authors say America is not immune to the trends that have led to democracys collapse in other parts of the worldFinancial Times A powerful wake up call Foreign AffairsThe big advantage of political scientists over even the shrewdest and luckiest of eavesdropping journalists is that they have the training to give us a bigger picture Levitsky and Ziblatt bring to bear useful global and historical context showing the mistakes democratic politicians make as they let dangerous demagogues into the heart of power The Sunday Times If this were fiction, the thrills of this book would remind you of the thrills you had when you first read , It Cant Happen Here, The Plot Against America and The Handmaids Tale If this were fiction, you could lie in the sand and enjoy the read But this book is not fiction And this book is not just about the pastAnd this book is not just about other countries It should be on your reading list this summerTufts NowThe authors argue, with good evidence, that democracies arent destroyed because of the impulses of a single man they are, instead, degraded in the course of a partisan tit for tat dynamic that degrades norms over time until one side sees an opening to deliver the death blow Donald Trump is not a dictator But its impossible to read How Democracies Die without worrying that our collective decay of democratic norms may open the door to one down the lineperhaps even one of an entirely different ideological persuasion Wall Street Journal Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt offer one of the best forensic accounts available of the crimes against democracy in America The diagnosis is compelling, and their book is essential, even compulsive, readingSurvival Global Politics and Strategy How Democracies Die is a stellar deep dive into a series of modern democracies that ceased to be Daily KosMaybe have a drink before digging into this one Levitsky and Ziblatt trace the fall of democracies throughout history with agonizing clarity, going right up to our current perilous momentEntertainment WeeklyLevitsky and Ziblatt are not entirely pessimistic but they leave readers in no doubt that they should be worried about the state of American democracy SlateChilling A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump s ascent and the fall of other democracies Kirkus Reviews Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have offered a brilliant diagnosis of the most important issue facing our world Can democracy survive With clinical precision and an extraordinary grasp of history, they point to the warning signs of decay and define the obligations of those who would preserve free government If there is an urgent book for you to read at this moment, it is How Democracies DieEJ Dionne Jr co author of One Nation After Trump Levitsky and Ziblatt are leading scholars of democracy in other parts of the world, who with great energy and integrity now apply their expertise to the current problems of the United States The reader feels the intellectual excitement, and also the political warning, as the authors draw the connections from their own vast knowledge to the chaos that we experience each day Timothy Snyder, author of On TyrannyWe live in perilous times Anyone who is concerned about the future of American democracy should read this brisk, accessible book Anyone who is notconcerned should definitely read itDaron Acemoglu,co author of Why Nations FailReaders will not find an anti Trump screed in How Democracies Die The book iserudite than alarmist but that makes Levitsky and Ziblatts clarity on the risk of both Trump and wider political developments all thepowerfulCalifornia magazine All Americans who care about the future of their country should read this magisterial, compelling book, which sweeps across the globe and through history to analyze how democracies die The result is an unforgettable framework for diagnosing the state of affairs here at home and our prospects for recovery Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration and CuzTwo years ago, a book like this could not have been written two leading political scientists who are expert in the breakdown of democracy in other parts of the world using that knowledge to inform Americans of the dangers their democracy faces today We owe the authors a debt of thanks for bringing their deep understanding to bear on the central political issue of the day Francis Fukuyama, author of Political Order and Political Decay In this brilliant historical synthesis, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how the actions of elected leaders around the world have paved the road to democratic failure, and why the United States is now vulnerable to this same downward spiral This book should be widely and urgently read as a clarion call to restore the shared beliefs and practicesbeyond our formal constitutionthat constitute the essential guardrails for preserving democracy Larry Diamond, author of The Spirit of DemocracyThorough and well argued the biggest strength of How Democracies Die is its bluntness of language in describing American historya bluntness that often goes missing when we discuss our own pastPacific StandardRequired reading for every American How Democracies Die shows the daily slings and arrows that can gradually crush our liberties, without the drama of a revolution or a military coupThe Philadelphia Inquirer