Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, professors of government at Harvard, write:
“Donald J. Trump’s election has raised a question that few Americans ever imagined asking: Is our democracy in danger? With the possible exception of the Civil War, American democracy has never collapsed; indeed, no democracy as rich or as established as America’s ever has. Yet past stability is no guarantee of democracy’s future survival.
“We have spent two decades studying the emergence and breakdown of democracy in Europe and Latin America. Our research points to several warning signs.
“The clearest warning sign is the ascent of anti-democratic politicians into mainstream politics. Drawing on a close study of democracy’s demise in 1930s Europe, the eminent political scientist Juan J. Linz designed a “litmus test” to identify anti-democratic politicians. His indicators include a failure to reject violence unambiguously, a readiness to curtail rivals’ civil liberties, and the denial of the legitimacy of elected governments.
“Mr. Trump tests positive. In the campaign, he encouraged violence among supporters; pledged to prosecute Hillary Clinton; threatened legal action against unfriendly media; and suggested that he might not accept the election results….
“Mr. Trump is not the first American politician with authoritarian tendencies. (Other notable authoritarians include Gov. Huey Long of Louisiana and Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.) But he is the first in modern American history to be elected president. This is not necessarily because Americans have grown more authoritarian (the United States electorate has always had an authoritarian streak). Rather it’s because the institutional filters that we assumed would protect us from extremists, like the party nomination system and the news media, failed.
“Many Americans are not overly concerned about Mr. Trump’s authoritarian inclinations because they trust our system of constitutional checks and balances to constrain him.
“Yet the institutional safeguards protecting our democracy may be less effective than we think. A well-designed constitution is not enough to ensure a stable democracy — a lesson many Latin American independence leaders learned when they borrowed the American constitutional model in the early 19th century, only to see their countries plunge into chaos. “Democratic institutions must be reinforced by strong informal norms. Like a pickup basketball game without a referee, democracies work best when unwritten rules of the game, known and respected by all players, ensure a minimum of civility and cooperation. Norms serve as the soft guardrails of democracy, preventing political competition from spiraling into a chaotic, no-holds-barred conflict.
“Among the unwritten rules that have sustained American democracy are partisan self-restraint and fair play. For much of our history, leaders of both parties resisted the temptation to use their temporary control of institutions to maximum partisan advantage, effectively underutilizing the power conferred by those institutions. There existed a shared Can Our Democracy Survive Trump? | Diane Ravitch's blog:
Harvard, write: “Donald J. Trump’s election has raised a question that few Americans ever imagined asking: Is our democracy in danger? With the possible exception of the Civil War
Sheila Resseger is a retired teacher in Rhode Island. She writes in response to an earlier post about the proposed expansion of the Achievement First charter chain in Rhode Island. The state commissioner, Kenneth Wagner, is enthusiastic about the increase in charter enrollment by 2,000, even though it will strip more than $30 million from the Providence public schools, which enrolls far more stud
In this post, which appeared on Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog, Nancy Carlsson-Paige explains that the biggest problem in early childhood education today is the erosion of time for play. Carlsson-Paige is an emeritus professor at Lesley College, where she taught teachers of early childhood. She explains in this post that the changes in the recent past have damaged children and their classr
Steven Singer wants you to know the truth: No matter how much she denies it, Betsy DeVos really really loves Common Core! He has the evidence to prove it. She’s a board member of Jeb Bush’s pro-Common Core think tank, Foundation for Excellence in Education, where she hangs out with prominent Democratic education reformers like Bill Gates and Eli Broad. But she says that somehow doesn’t mean she l
As threatened, the Republican-dominated Geral Assembly of North Carolina passed legislation to diminish the powers of the incoming Democratic Governor. The outgoing Governor, Pat McCrory, who lost the election to Attorney General Roy Cooper, promptly signed the controversial bills, undermining his successor. The Tea Party Republicans who control the legislature are punishing Cooper for winning. T
K12 Inc. is the largest provider of online charter schools. This sector is probably the worst part of the charter industry. CREDO reported last year that for every 180 days of online enrollment, a student will lose 180 days in math, and 72 in reading. At its shareholder meeting on December 15, a group of shareholders proposed that the corporation become transparent as to how much it spends on lob
As the North Carolina General Assembly passes legislation to limit the powers of the newly-elected Governor of the state, who is a Democrat, protestors gather at the State Capitol, speak out and are arrested. The General Assembly has been controlled by Tea Party extremists since 2010, when they had the chance to redistrict and guarantee themselves a super-majority. The federal court has ruled tha
The U.S. Department of Education, in the Trump regime, is starting to look like a Jeb Bush sweep. Betsy DeVos was on the board of Jeb’s Foundation for Education Excellence, which is noted for its advocacy for vouchers, charter schools, digital learning, and high-stakes testing. Hanna Skandera, State Superintendent in New Mexico, worked for Jeb Bush, was a member and chair of Jeb’s Chiefs for Chan
Rebecca Mead, staff writer at The anew Yorker, outlines the advantages that Betsy DeVos offers: She has no ties to Vladimir Putin; she hasn’t spread fake news; she apparently has no plans to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education. Of these three “advantages,” I feel confident only about the first one. Her persistent lambasting of public schools is fake news. And it remains to be seen whether
The founder of a small charter chain in Michigan has been sentenced to 41 months in prison. I have written about Ingersoll here and here . Steven Ingersoll founded the Grand Traverse Academy in Michigan. Blogger Anita Senkowski has followed this scandal from its beginnings. She writes about Ingersoll’s sentencing here . In its December 15, 2016 sentencing memorandum, the government stated: In gen
Kenneth Wagner, Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island, has approved a plan to allow the Achievement First “no-excuses” charter chain to more than triple its enrollment over the next decade to more than 3,000 students. (Other stories say that the number of students will grow from the present 720 to 2,000.) The proposal is controversial because the increase in charter enrollment will cut the bu
Peter Greene listened to a podcast produced by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and made a shocking discovery : One of the leading figures of the reform movement–Checker Finn–acknowledged that after 20 years of reform, there was no change!
Politico reports that Hanna Skandera, Commissioner of Education in New Mexico, is being considered for the second most important job in the Education Department. Mercedes Schneider explains that Skandera is a major advocate for the Common Core. She is currently in charge of PARCC, the testing consortium.