Democratic Vulnerabilities and Pathways for Reform

AuthorRobert C. Lieberman,Jamila Michener,Suzanne Mettler,Kenneth M. Roberts,Thomas B. Pepinsky
DOI10.1177/00027162221077516
Published date01 January 2022
Date01 January 2022
Subject MatterIntroduction
8 ANNALS, AAPSS, 699, January 2022
DOI: 10.1177/00027162221077516
Democratic
Vulnerabilities
and Pathways
for Reform
By
SUZANNE METTLER,
ROBERT C. LIEBERMAN,
JAMILA MICHENER,
THOMAS B. PEPINSKY,
and
KENNETH M. ROBERTS
1077516ANN THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMYDEMOCRATIC VULNERABILITIES AND PATHWAYS FOR REFORM
research-article2022
Keywords: democracy; backsliding; political develop-
ment; institutions; reform
American democracy is in trouble. Even
before the 2016 election, the United States
had slipped in international democracy rankings,
losing its long-held stature as a “full” democracy
and joining the “flawed” democracies (Economist
Intelligence Unit 2020; V-Dem Institute 2021).
Scholars of democracy around the world have
identified several key weaknesses in American
democracy, such as an increasingly dysfunctional
government and fraying social cohesion, that
undermine the regime’s accountability and
responsivness. For decades, political scientists
have observed key threats to democracy that
have been on the rise: political polarization;
conflict—incited by racism and nativism—over
the boundaries of American citizenship and the
civic status of those in different social groups; soar-
ing economic inequality; and executive aggran-
dizement (Mettler and Lieberman 2020). The
confluence of these threats fueled the candidacy
Suzanne Mettler is John L. Senior Professor of American
Institutions at Cornell You don’t have sufficient rights
to edit this element. Please add a comment for the
Production EditorUniversity. She is the co-author of
Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American
Democracy (with Robert C. Lieberman; Macmillan
2020), and co-editor of Democratic Resilience: Can the
United States Withstand Rising Polarization? (with
Lieberman and Kenneth M. Roberts; Cambridge
University Press 2021).
Robert C. Lieberman is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor
of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is
the co-author of Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of
American Democracy (with Suzanne Mettler), and co-
editor of Democratic Resilience: Can the United States
Withstand Rising Polarization? (with Mettler and
Kenneth M. Roberts).
Correspondence: suzanne.mettler@cornell.edu

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