How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

The cover of How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

American democracy has worked by relying on two norms: Mutual tolerance and institutional forbearance. Donald Trump openly violated these norms, but he wasn’t the first—in fact the GOP has been on a shift away from democracy’s guard rails since 2008.

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt start by talking about the ways democracies fell apart in the past. Some of them by coup and some, more recently, by autocrats undermining democratic values. For example eroding the trust in the voting system, being openly hostile to their opponents instead of respecting them as part of a democracy or attacking the press (“Fake News”).

I learned, how Davic Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, put it, that “American democracy may be more fragile than we realized.” But I also learned what to look out for, how to behave when a party is violating democratic norms and how (American) democracy can be saved. All this can be applied to other democracies as well, some of which already show similar signs of partisan hostility.

Highly recommed reading this if you care about democracy (which I hope you do).