Inside the Hive

Republicans Are Putting Democracy on Life Support

The authors of How Democracies Die are back with a new book that tackles the threat of minority rule—and how our political institutions can be reformed.
Republicans Are Putting Democracy on Life Support
From Getty Images.

On Inside the Hive, host Brian Stelter discusses the Republican Party’s antidemocracy trajectory with Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, Harvard professors and coauthors of the new book Tyranny of the Minority. The authors, who warned of backsliding in their acclaimed 2018 book, How Democracies Die, address Donald Trump and his GOP allies’ refusal to accept the 2020 election results, the violence of January 6, and ongoing threats.

“When you don’t have a peaceful transition of power, an uncontested transition of power, that should really set off alarm bells, because most democracies, fully consolidated democracies, don’t have trouble with that kind of thing,” says Ziblatt.?

“There must be something,” Ziblatt adds. “This is not just a blip. This is not just a kind of momentary detour. It could happen again in 2024, could happen again. And we need to try to understand why we’re vulnerable. We need to give ourselves a really hard look in the mirror and say, okay, what, what’s going on here? What’s happening in America that leaves us in this position?”

In addition to issuing warnings, Levitsky and Ziblatt propose changes, from abolishing the Electoral College to placing limits on the tenure of Supreme Court justices, in hopes of keeping the United States on the path toward multiracial democracy.

“Compared to other countries, we had a pretty progressive democratic constitution in 1789,” Levitsky says. “Other countries, over the course of 200-plus years, have gradually reformed their constitutions to make it more democratic. They expanded suffrage. In some cases, they eliminated or they weakened their senates or upper chambers. They established term limits on judiciaries. They created more, more majoritarian systems. And we did that too, to an extent…but we’ve done it a lot less than other democracies. And over the last half century, we just stopped. We stopped doing the work of making ourselves more democratic.”