In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Suzanne Mettler, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions in the government department, writes that four threats that endanger democracy – political polarization; conflict over who belongs as a full member of the political community; rising economic inequality; and the concentration of power in the nation’s top leader — have converged for the first time in American history.
“In this pandemic election, Americans stepped up and voted in record numbers to make their voices heard. The result is a testament to democratic resilience. And yet our democracy remains in precarious health,” Mettler writes with co-author Robert Lieberman. “Even now, when President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is clear, President Trump continues to issue false claims of stolen votes and rigged counting while pursuing lawsuits that deny the election’s decisive outcome. Some of his most fervent supporters, including elected officials, have repeated these dangerous claims, refusing to accept the people’s democratic judgment. These desperate moves are reminiscent of the actions not just of autocratic rulers abroad but also of scenes from the United States’ own history.”