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Book Review

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The proliferating "crisis-of-democracy" literature, like The Fast and the Furious franchise, has only one plot. And, like the crash-up car-chase movies, it has not let this fact slow its growth. Likely none of these books would exist—certainly none would be remotely the same—if Hillary Clinton had pulled a hundred thousand more votes out of the Midwest in 2016. All are organized around the shock of Trump's victory and allege a national and international crisis of democracy. Just what is the crisis? What is missing from these works, and the commentariat that they represent, is a genuine reckoning with twenty-first-century questions: whether we have ever been democratic, and whether the versions of capitalism that have emerged in the last forty years are compatible with democracy. The crisis-of-democracy literature largely presumes that these debates have been settled, so that any doubts about that settlement must be symptoms of confusion or bad faith. That is why these books do not rise to the crisis that occasions them.


(reviewing E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, & Thomas E. Mann, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet-Deported (2017); David Frum, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic (2018); William A. Galston, Antipluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy (2018); Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die (2018); and, Yascha Mounk, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It (2018)

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Democracy, Donald Trump

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