The Case against Democracy

The Case against Democracy

The Case against Democracy

The Case against Democracy


The case for democracy is an intrinsic part of our political culture. This non-partisan book provides the other side of the story via well-researched history and current events that illuminate the theory and practice of democracy.


The idea for this book came to me several years ago, in the summer of 2007. The country was suffering a malaise of sorts, with an unpopular president presiding over a stalling economy and two wars. “Politics as usual” started to feel pretty unusual, and many began to wonder if something more systemic was the cause. I thought a book comparing the theory and practices of democracy might do something to redirect the conversation from petty squabbles toward a more substantive treatment of the issues.

By the summer of 2008, the landscape had begun to change. Barack Obama was running for president and leading what many called a social movement. Commentators, on the Left and even a few on the Right, were singing his praises. He was compared to Abraham Lincoln, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. The language of hope and change wasn’t mere campaign rhetoric; for many, it captured the mood of the day. Even the economic collapse that occurred in September of that year did little to damper the nation’s belief that things would soon improve.

“This is not a good time to write that book,” Seamus McNameePerez, one of my research assistants, said in my office one afternoon, and of course, he was right. I had been thinking the same thing for weeks. It didn’t seem necessary to write a book like this when things were looking up. I put it on the back burner and moved on to teaching my classes and other research.

But Obama’s honeymoon was short-lived. The battle over the stimulus bill proved to be exceptionally contentious and partisan, given . . .

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