"Democracy"

"Democratic erosion"

  • Democratic Erosion - “a cross-university collaborative course that aims to help students critically and systematically evaluate the risks to democracy both here and abroad through the lens of theory, history, and social science”

Bibliography

  • Bermeo, Nancy. “On Democratic Backsliding.” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 1 (January 2016).
    • “The term democratic backsliding is frequently used but rarely analyzed. This explains why a careful recent survey concluded 'we know very little' about it.”
    • “Ironically, we now face forms of democratic backsliding that are legitimated through the very institutions that democracy promoters have prioritized. Overall, trends in backsliding reflect democracy’s slow progress and not its demise.”
    • “Democratic backsliding can thus constitute democratic breakdown or simply the serious weakening of existing democratic institutions for undefined ends. When backsliding yields situations that are fluid and ill-defined, taking action to defend democracy becomes particularly difficult.”
    • Suggests successful coups have been on the decline, including executive coups.
    • Typology of backsliding: promissory coups (promising greater future democracy through taking non-democratic measures); “Executive aggrandizement” (gradual weakening of checks on executive power by elected executives); Manipulating elections strategically (various strategies for tilting elections toward incumbents).
    • “Democratic erosion may be better than democratic cataclysm because it is less likely to be violent, but incremental decline still presents us with important challenges”
    • The challenge of ambiguity: “We now face forms of democratic backsliding that are legitimated through the very institutions that democracy promoters have prioritized: national elections, voting majorities in legislatures and courts, and the “rule” of the laws that majorities produce.”
    • “Democratic backsliding is the weakening or disassembling of a given set of democratic institutions. Thus it can sometimes occur with the intention of deepening rather than destroying democracy.”
    • “there has been a marked decrease in the length of time that a country with a toppled democracy stays autocratic”—“the decline in the most egregious forms of backsliding and the decline in the longevity and brutality of successor regimes suggest that democracy’s prospects are still good”
  • Foa, Roberto and Yascha Mounk.
    • Foa, Roberto and Yascha Mounk. “Are Americans losing faith in democracy?.” Vox. December 18, 2015.
    • Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. “The Danger of Deconsolidation: The Democratic Disconnect.” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 3 (July 2016).
    • Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. “The Signs of Deconsolidation.” Journal of Democracy 28, no. 1 (January 2017).
      • Amy C. Alexander and Christian Welzel, “The Myth of Deconsolidation: Rising Liberalism and the Populist Reaction.”
        • Positions the current crisis rhetoric as part of a recurring anxiety, repeated in the 1960s (Huntington) and early 2000s (Putnam).
        • “Foa and Mounk heavily overstate the age differences in democratic support. Second, the obvious age pattern in indicators of political disaffection has little to do with generations; it is instead a lifecycle effect: younger people showed stronger signs of disaffection already in earlier decades, but this age pattern is not linked to a uniform temporal trend towards increasing disaffection in the electorates of mature democracies” Also: “the moral values on which people base their democratic support have turned dramatically more liberal over the generations. As a consequence, support for democracy has changed its meaning: while older generations continue to endorse illiberal notions of democracy, younger generations support an unequivocally liberal notion”
        • “the recent success of right-wing populist parties neither indicates an increased voter base for these parties, nor does it signal fading civic qualities among the younger generations of mature democracies. To the contrary, the right-wing populist electorate is increasingly concentrated among older generations and within marginalized social classes”
        • Findings derive from the European Values Survey and World Values Survey (same as Foa and Mounk). Reveals strongly constrasting trends if measured according to “liberal values”
        • “levels of democratic support are astoundingly high even for the least supportive cohorts and only vary within a narrow corridor”
        • “Since it has become fashionable among the publics of mature democracies to express distrust in representative institutions, we might overestimate the size of the right-wing populist electorates”
        • Right-wing base is shrinking, aging out of the population
        • “Let us not be mistaken. The dangers of this situation for democracy are real—but not for the reasons proposed by Foa and Mounk. This is an important insight because the prescription of a healthy cure requires a correct diagnosis in the first place. The real source of our current problems is the increased class polarization and the marginalization of the lower classes.”
      • Pippa Norris, “Is Western Democracy Backsliding? Diagnosing the Risks”
        • Traces the recent wave of worry of anti-democracy to Huntington's The Third Wave (1993)
        • The generational trend against democracy varies widely by country in Western democracies. Freedom House sees no evidence of decline in Western democracies' core institutions, through 2016.
        • “contrary to Foa and Mounk’s suggestion, in fact the reverse pattern of generational support for populist-authoritarian parties can be observed; in the United States and in many European countries, voters supporting these parties and leaders are drawn disproportionately from the older generation, not the Millennials”
        • “Far from a uniform ‘European’ pattern, countries vary widely in public perception of democratic performance and persistent contrasts are observable. The data also suggests a persistent life-cycle effect.”
        • “a recent study of U.S. public opinion by the Pew Research Center found no consistent age differences in American views about the important components of a strong democracy”
        • “Certainly all Americans have become more critical of democracy in recent years, but this does not mean that younger citizens have suddenly lost faith in these values.” The age variation has been consistent over time.
        • Data on the near-linear relationship between Trump-voting and older generations
      • Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk, “The End of the Consolidation Paradigm: A Response to Our Critics”
        • Clarifies the scope of their argument: questioning the inevitability and permanence of democratic consolidation
        • “In many democracies, electoral turnout, membership in political parties, and political trust have all declined.” But many have tended to explain this as merely an outgrowth of new democratic forms emerging.
        • “Analysis by Simon Hix and Giacomo Benedetto shows that, across 31 democracies, the vote share for radical right parties is at its highest level since the 1930s. Similarly, outside of this exchange, Pippa Norris has presented data showing rising electoral support for authoritarian populism over time”
        • “If half of all supposedly consolidated democracies including such important ones as the United States and Great Britain appear to be deconsolidating, then there is strong evidence for revising our assumptions regarding the stability of longstanding democracies.”
        • “Voeten points out that there are a good number of countries, including Finland, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, in which there was no erosion of democratic values until 2009”
        • New evidence: “data collected by YouGov across seven European countries in 2017 shows that dissatisfaction with democracy among young Europeans is widespread”
        • The Freedom House rankings are limited, and when added with other metrics on the status and effectiveness of institutions, the decline is evident. “broader measures of democratic performance in western countries such as the indices of the Worldwide Governance Indicators that cover political stability, rule of law, or control of corruption show a similar deterioration over time”
        • They do not offer a competing theory to explain these phenomena, they just insist that the previous consolidation theory is not adequate.
        • Notes that majority support for democracy is no protection; this was the case when Erdogan consolidated rule in Turkey, for instance.
  • Schedler, Andreas. ”What Is Democratic Consolidation?.“ Journal of Democracy 9, no. 2 (April 1998).
    • Consolidation has been defined in various ways, ranging from making democracies more secure to making democracy “the only game in town” and eliminating authoritarian outposts. (90)
    • Defends the basic teleological nature of this concept (95).
    • But wants to narrow the definition. ”'democratic consolidation' should refer to expectations of regime continuity—and to nothing else.“
  • Townsend, Sarah. ”Focus: Democracy doesn't work, say young Arabs. ArabianBusiness.com. April 21, 2015.

"President"

  • Bartoloni-Tuazon, Kathleen. For Fear of an Elective King: George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789. Cornell University Press, 2014.
      • “In the years preceding the Constitution and its plan for a singular executive, the Continental Congress had functioned with no national executive and the Confederation Congress had one of no substantive power. The Continental Congress essentially undertook the “executive and administrative responsibilities that had been exercised by or under the aegis of the king’s authority,” while the states retained Parliament’s powers of taxation, trade, and internal governance. The burdens of both executive and administrative responsibilities proved so onerous that Congress created executive departments in 1781, an action that resulted in an unforeseen yet inevitable loss of executive will as the departments took over the heavy lifting of 'finance, foreign affairs, war, and marine matters.” Without the authority to tax or regulate trade, powers that were still held by the states under the Articles of Confederation, Congress floundered and became less effective during the Confederation years. The approach outlined in the Constitution, with stronger and largely separate legislative and executive branches, eventually became the lesser of two evils, preferred over the morass that the combined duties in one body had become.”
  • Simmons-Duffin, Selena. “Why President? How The U.S. Named Its Leader.” All Things Considered. February 15, 2016.

Bibliography

  • Arriaga, Manuel. Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen's Guide to Reinventing Politics. Thistle, 2014.
  • Barber, Benjamin R. Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. University of California Press, 1984.
  • Bryan, Frank M. Real Democracy: The New England Town Meeting and How It Works. University of Chicago Press, 2003.
  • Clark, Susan and Woden Teachout. Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home. Chelsea Green, 2012.
  • Dahl, Robert A. On Democracy. Yale University Press, 1998.
  • Dinan, Matthew D. “Keeping the old name: Derrida and the deconstructive foundations of democracy.” European Journal of Political Theory 13, no. 1 (2013).
    • “Derrida particularly notes democracy’s affirmation of its incommensurable dual foundations of freedom and equality. Derrida argues that democracy resembles deconstruction because its dual foundations exist in tension with one another: neither freedom nor democracy becomes reified because each critiques the other. Democracy exists, therefore, only ‘in turn'” (67) — yet this paradox, says Derrida, “bears the chance and the future of a democracy whose ruin itconstantly threatens but whose life, however, it sustains”
    • “Since democracy can never be reduced to either simple commensurability or simple incommensurability, it is always on the verge of ‘delimiting’ itself, of questioning its own relation to its foundations.” (69)
    • “Derrida thus proposes that democracy negotiates its antinomian foundations ‘in turn’, preventing either foundation from becoming reified.” (69) “Derrida accordingly argues that democracy does not exist as a stable presence.” (70)
    • “the lack of a stable foundation makes democracy radically receptive to the future” (70)
    • “Democracy, Derrida concludes, is historical because it lacks presence: it is always looking toward the ‘to come’ or the future, to its next turn, and is consequently bound to the experience of time and thus history.” (70)
    • “Rather, he enjoins us to change our relationship with foundations, to embrace them tentatively, rather than in a totalizing manner, and locates precisely such an understanding of foundations within democracy, which in its essentially historical practice requires its coupled origins of freedom and equality to be embraced in turns.” (71)
  • Freeman, Jo. “The Tyranny of Structurelessness.” The Second Wave 2, no. 1 (1972).
  • Guinier, Lani. The Tyranny of the Majority. Free Press, 1994.
  • James, C.L.R. “Every Cook Can Govern: A Study of Democracy in Ancient Greece: Its Meaning for Today.” Correspondence 2, no. 12 (June 1956).
  • Metcalf, Gabriel. Democratic by Design: How Carsharing, Co-ops and Community Land Trusts Are Reinventing America. St. Martin's Press, 2015.