Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Title: How Democracies Die
Author: Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
Pages: 320 pages
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Publisher: Crown
Genre: Nonfiction; Politics; Democracy
My Rating: 5/5

Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. 

Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.

One of my favorite books last year was Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny, a compact little history/blowhorn of the dangers of an impending democratic collapse. How Democracies Die is like the extended version of this book I didn't know I needed. Frankly, I'm spent on the influx of books, movies, shows, music, merchandise, etc etc that continue to capitalize on the current political climate - amendments (all of em), feminism, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, school shootings. These works are getting more attention, no matter the quality. For example, The Post: an Oscar-nominated, mediocre-at-best movie about the importance of the free press. Anyways. This book stood apart. It's history, y'all. 

Gatekeeping in primaries is important, and has been done since the beginning of our democracy. Don't let the bad guys run for office, it's simple. This is not going against democratic principles, quite the opposite. It is to preserve them. To keep out potential demigods. Republicans failed so hard at doing this in 2016. And now we have a megalomaniac. The comparisons in this book of events leading up to democratic collapse throughout history and the moves made by the current administration is uncanny. We are witnessing textbook procedure on how to squash a democracy. But we need to learn from the past. We need to keep the current administration in check, that's all. How Democracies Die is entirely optimistic.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

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1 comment:

  1. Welcome back! Nice review, and I will read this book.