America’s constitutional system of checks and balances has endured for more than two centuries. This is due, in part, to two unwritten political norms: respectful tolerance between opposing political parties, and a measure of restraint by the administration in power. Yet at contentious times in our history, those guardrails of democracy have been put to the test.
In How Democracies Die, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt cover decades of research on the breakdown in democracies in Europe and Latin America. Looking at examples of creeping authoritarianism in places like Peru, Chile, and Russia, and our occasional departure from democratic norms, Levitsky and Ziblatt seek to answer a fundamental question plaguing today’s political scientists: Is American democracy in danger?
A political scientist and professor of government at Harvard University, Steven Levitsky’s research focuses on Latin America and the developing world, party systems, and authoritarianism. A fellow professor at Harvard, Daniel Ziblatt studies European politics and democratization and co-chairs the Challenges to Democracy Research Project with Levitsky. Both are frequent contributors to Vox and the New York Times.