What is the Paradox of Democracy?

Is it democratic when the people reject democracy? This paradox strikes at the heart of the defining principle of democracy, self-determination. Because self-determination gives the people complete freedom, its expression is unpredictable. There is no guarantee the gift of democracy will become self-sustaining. On the contrary, the people can reject the process itself. This phenomenon…

Patrimonialism, Freud and Fukuyama

European politics was long defined through the institutions of monarchy and aristocracy. Title and wealth were passed down through generations. Patrimonialism is a political system based on inheritance. It is not a Western tradition. The Chinese Empire is divided into Dynasties based on lineage. Even today, modern society has never completely eradicated patrimonialism. The business…

Partrick Deneen’s Lament of Liberalism

Within Patrick Deneen’s lament on liberalism, he makes a fundamental insight that is easily lost within the pages of this work. He recognizes the strong state becomes essential to the realization of liberal society. The state is a threat to many local institutions because liberalism depends on the institutional supremacy of the state. Liberalism denies…

Ronald Inglehart and the Economics of Democracy

In 1959 Seymour Martin Lipset wrote a highly influential paper called “Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy.” It was not the first-time statistical analysis was used in political science research. But it was the first time an academic paper demonstrated a correlation between economic development and democracy. Since then, political scientists have…

Milan Svolik and Polarization

Elections are relied on too often. They are the key instrument to indicate popular policy preferences. Elections give a mandate for policy change to the winners. Elections are also expected to encourage effective government. An executive who runs government poorly is not expected to hold onto office. Plus, elections are necessary to maintain the integrity…

Fareed Zakaria, Marc Plattner and Illiberal Democracy

France is called the fifth Republic because the previous four republics failed. Democratic experiments began in France a little after the American Revolution. The French Revolution began in 1789. This was George Washington’s first year as President and two years after the Constitutional Convention. Most are aware the first republic descended into chaos before Napoleon…

Opinions About Democracy

The diagnosis of democracy’s decline is troubled because there is little clarity behind the definition of democracy. Most people believe democracy is the presence of elections. But the existence of unfair and unfree elections in many countries has made the mere presence of elections a low bar for the presence of democracy. Steven Levitsky and…

Freedom House and a Measure of Democracy

This month Freedom House released its annual report on global freedom and democracy called Freedom in the World. They have released an annual report with detailed evaluations on every country in the world since the 1970s. Everybody who thinks, reads or writes about democracy reads this report. This is the oldest comprehensive measurement of liberal…

Levitsky, Ziblatt and Democratic Norms

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt recently published an important work called How Demcoracies Die. The title is more than dramatic. It is over the top. It gives the reader a mistaken impression their work is simply meant to scare readers and sell books. This is completely wrong. These are serious political scientists with significant ideas.…

Ginsburg, Huq and Democracy’s Near Misses

The work of Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq is about constitutional liberal democracy. Their article “How to Lose a Constitutional Democracy” brought a legal perspective to a debate dominated by political scientists. Their subsequent book was titled How to Save a Constitutional Democracy. Ginsberg has also written another piece (along with James Melton and Zachary…