How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt was tapped as my Book of the Year when I first read it in 2018. I bring it up again today, just three short weeks before our election,
- After yet another major violation of the Hatch Act, where an illegal political event was held on White House grounds on Saturday and labeled — with no sense of irony — a “Law & Order” rally;
- Soon after a right wing terrorist plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan was thwarted by FBI actions;
- The day before a rushed nomination of a hard-right judge begins to be pushed through the Senate with the benefit of Republican lies and against the will of the majority of the people; and
- During the weekend U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said African Americans and immigrants can “go anywhere” in his home state but they “just need to be conservative.”
It took me less than a minute to find these four recent threats to our democracy: flagrant disregard for the law, violent threats against political opponents, attempts to lock-in minority rule, and overt racism. That was enough to lead me to highlight this sobering work yet again.
Levitsky and Ziblatt are two Harvard professors who have spent twenty years studying the decline of democracies all around the world. Their research shows that more often than not, it is the slow decline of institutions such as the judiciary and press that lead countries to move from democratic to authoritarian governments.
This accessible book is highly recommended, and perhaps should be required reading for the entire country at this point in time. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of the fight to save our democracy, this is as good a book as any to consult.
More to come…
NOTE #1: During October, I am writing articles on how history and the places where history happened can help us understand the issues we are facing as a country and a democracy. Besides this book review on how democracies die, you can find posts on racial violence, religious liberty, voter suppression and revealed history by clicking on the links.
NOTE #2: My initial review of this work was buried in the middle of a series of short reviews of books read over my summer break. I bring it out here in a short, separate review so I can highlight and reference it at this crucial time.