23 February 2018

Don’t kid yourself. The future is bleak.

Democracy is really a prisoner's dilemma, and we're losing at ours.

The only way democracies stop being so polarized is after some kind of catastrophe — a catastrophe that more often than not is brought on by, yes, polarization. Indeed, the two most optimistic examples that Levitsky and Ziblatt can come up with are the way Chile's parties from across the ideological spectrum were eventually able to set aside their rather substantial differences to support democracy in the years after Augusto Pinochet's coup and how German conservatives managed to overcome their traditional Catholic-Protestant divide to do the same in the wake of World War II. Remember, the fact that democracy can come back after a dictatorship is supposed to be the good news here.

Matt O'Brien