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Democracy At Risk: Scholars Offer Warnings And What Can Be Done

A woman wears a mask while walking past an American flag painted on a wall. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
A woman wears a mask while walking past an American flag painted on a wall. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Our entire democracy is now at risk.” Those are the unvarnished words of more than 100 scholars with expertise in the history of democratic breakdown around the world.

Now, they’re warning the U.S. could transform into a political system that doesn’t meet even “minimum conditions” for free and fair elections. We’ll hear their warnings, and solutions.


Susan Stokes, professor of political science and director of the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago. Co-director of Bright Line Watch, an academic initiative to monitor democratic practices in the U.S. and call attention to threats to American democracy.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

Anna Grzymala-Busse, professor of international studies and director of The Europe Center at Stanford University. Senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institution for International Studies and the Hoover Institution. (@AnnaGBusse)

Steven Levitsky, professor of government and director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.

From The Reading List

New America: “Statement of Concern” — “We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm.”

Democratic Erosion: “Civil Society and Democratic Decline: A Look at Poland” — “Poland was once seen as a model post-Soviet transition to democracy. Between 1989 and 2014, Poland built democratic institutions, joined the EU, NATO, and the OSCE, and experienced significant economic growth.”

The Guardian: “American democracy is at risk from Trump and the Republicans. What can be done?” — “Academics rarely agree about the big issues, and generally hesitate to enter the political fray by signing collective public statements.”

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