For the most part, observers of American politics have not considered the possibility that the American democratic regime might be at risk. But the unexpected election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the subsequent course of his presidency have occasioned a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety about whether democracy in the United States is at risk and whether American political institutions can withstand the stresses of contemporary politics. This course will use the Trump era to explore the conditions that seem to threaten the stability of the American regime. We will begin by exploring the political circumstances that led to Trump’s rise. We will then examine what we can learn from the experience of other countries about the conditions that make democracy either robust or fragile. Finally, we will consider how a set of contemporary political conditions in the United States — extreme partisan polarization, intense racial antagonism, growing economic inequality, and expanded executive power — contribute to the challenges facing American democracy today and in the future.
Please visit the Office of the Registrar for more information about this course.