SNF Agora faculty members Henry Farrell, Hahrie Han, and Yascha Mounk joined 75 other scholars as signatories to an open “Statement on the Principles of Democracy.” Published on the New America website, the statement focuses specifically on how minority rule in the United States threatens to undermine our democratic institutions.
Farrell, Han, and Mounk signed the nonpartisan statement in their capacity as citizens, and not as representatives of any of the institutions of which they are a part, including the SNF Agora Institute. Johns Hopkins political scientists Robert Lieberman, who serves on SNF Agora’s Academic Advisory Board, and Daniel Schlozman also signed the statement.
The statement reads, in part:
“We recognize in American democracy today many dangerous conditions from other declining democracies: hyper-partisan polarization, mutual political enmity and distrust, zero-sum politics, lack of tolerance for opposition and minorities, rampant propagation of falsehoods and conspiracy theories, and the encouragement or rationalization of violence. The willingness of prominent politicians to violate basic democratic norms is a common warning sign of democratic distress. And when these violations become routine and expected, the downward spiral is very hard to reverse.
“But we also see something uniquely dangerous in America right now—an electoral system that allows for minority rule. It is not only possible but now common for one party to win the presidency and the Senate, and then seek to establish long-term control over the judiciary despite a majority of citizens preferring a different party. It has also become common under divided government for an opposing party to obstruct on purely partisan grounds a president’s ability to even have judicial nominations considered.
“It is one thing to ensure that the rights of political (and other) minorities are respected, to plant, as our constitution does, restraints on majority rule. But it is quite something else in a democracy to give a political minority the power to rule.”
Read the entire statement at New America.