Even as many Americans despair of the current state of U.S. politics, we may forget that the United States has undergone repeated crises of democracy in the 1790s, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, the Depression, and Watergate. Analyzing these past challenges, Suzanne Mettler and Robert Lieberman note that four distinct characteristics of disruption emerge: Political polarization, racism and nativism, economic inequality, and excessive executive power. What is unique and alarming about the present moment in American politics is that all four conditions exist. By revisiting how earlier generations of Americans faced threats, however, we can still chart a path toward repairing our civic fabric and renewing democracy.
Author: Suzanne Mettler & Robert C. Lieberman.