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What's Behind the “Crisis of Democracy”?

According to the conventional wisdom, the biggest threats to liberal democracy today come from abstract groups of people, with one side blaming "elites" and the other decrying the poor judgement of the masses. Yet by ignoring the evolving role of political institutions, this dichotomy misses what is really going on.

PRINCETON – Donald Trump is out of the White House, but nobody in their right mind would say that the world has been made safe for democracy. Trump’s return cannot be ruled out, and even if the man spends the rest of his days as the grifter cum internet troll that he is, the United States (and the world) must deal with a thoroughly Trumpified Republican Party.

The GOP is now bent on undermining US democracy through voter suppression and by subverting the results of elections that do not go its way. And the US is hardly alone in facing assaults on its democracy. Brazil and India – two of the world’s largest democracies – are both governed by far-right populists; and within the European Union, Poland and Hungary are accelerating their descent into autocracy.

It is no surprise that there has been a boom of “crisis-of-democracy” books since Trump’s election in 2016. But are current threats to democracy being debated on the right terms?