Robert Dahl – On Political Equality

Dahl’s majoritarianism has never made sense to me. I get the feeling Dahl has different ideas he believes relate to democracy. But he never completely ties them together. There are so many loose ends which he dances around. It’s a beautiful chaos because he is a genius who is completely honest with his intellectual curiosity…

Arend Lijphart – Patterns of Democracy

The traditional definition of democracy emphasizes the principle of majority rule and the institution of elections. This is where the genesis of the “tyranny of the majority” claim emerges. Typically, political theorists have required the marriage of liberalism and democracy to establish limitations on majority rule. This approach assumes there is a conflict between traditional…

What is Democracy?

My search for meaning behind the political notion known as democracy began with the election of Donald Trump. Like many I did not believe his election was possible. It seemed inconceivable the democratic process would elevate a candidate who threatened its very existence. Republicans may feel I exaggerate, but I was appalled when he was…

Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq – How to Save a Constitutional Democracy

It is common to qualify democratic governance as not simply democracy but liberal democracy. This is natural because freedom has been associated with democracy dating back to the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. It is difficult to imagine an illiberal democracy which retained the foundations of democratic governance within an authoritarian or even totalitarian context.…

Paul Chaisty, Nic Cheeseman and Timothy Power – Coalitional Presidentialism in Comparative Perspective

Theories about presidentialism remain in the shadow of the “Perils of Presidentialism” thesis from Juan Linz. But a lot has changed since he made the case against presidential systems. Governments in nearly every region of the world have adopted some form of Presidential system. Chaisty, Cheeseman and Power have written a work which uses contemporary…

Sheri Berman – Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe

There is no clear demarcation between history and political science. There is an unspoken rule where historians establish an artificial line between current events and the historical past. Yet this line has always been artificial. The real difference between political science and history has been its academic approach. The historian analyzes specific events for their…

Amartya Sen – Development as Freedom

Political modernization for Samuel Huntington involved the creation of political institutions designed to facilitate the professionalization and organization necessary for an expanded role of governance. Note it is the institutions which are central for political modernization. Political parties, for example, became vehicles for mass political participation not just within democracies but even within nondemocratic political…

Thoughts on Political Science

Writing in the Age of Jackson, Alexis de Tocqueville found politics was central to American society. It found its way into nearly every part of American culture whether it was religion, education or business. Tocqueville felt this infatuation with politics was endemic to democracy. Today the divide between civic and political society remains difficult to…