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Are Democracies in Peril?

Are Democracies in Peril?


(audience applause) – Welcome to our first forum of the year! (audience cheers) Are democracies in peril? That’s how we’re kicking off the year. There’s a story about Benjamin Franklin, that was probably apocryphal. That as he was coming out of
the Constitutional Convention, a woman stops him and says, “Doctor, tell me,” “are we a democracy or a monarchy?” And he says, “We’re a democracy for now.” So, I’m gonna briefly
introduce our panelists here. Rather than read you their bios, you can look them up, right? Their names and their long title’s there. I asked them each to tell me a seminal memory or
experience of democracy. I’ll tell you my own
experience of democracy that was, my father was a
career foreign service officer in the U.S. State Department, and I remember being in the second grade, in Surabaya, Indonesia, and having a group of non-Americans in my second grade class, explain to me what a democracy was. I never forgot it, it was kinda wonderful. Marshall, Marshall told a story about accompanying the first
African-American voter to register to vote at the
Amite County Courthouse, in Liberty, Mississippi
in the spring of 1965. The last person who tried to register, had done so two years before, Herbert Lee, and he was shot and killed
in front of the courthouse, immediately afterwards by
the then state senator. Who would go first, was a toss-up between Herbert Lee Junior and Ben Faust, who claimed to be 104, had been born a slave, bent over from years of picking cotton, and who swore there was
one thing he wanted to do before he died, and that was register to vote. He went first, and Marshall was there. Jenny (audience applauds) … Hold the applause. Hold your applause til
the end of the semester. (audience laughs) Jenny described her father, who had come from England
from a middle-class family, but he’d gone to the
University of Cambridge, but he hated the English class system, where you could tell someone’s
class by their accents within two seconds of speaking with them. He loved the fact that
Jenny was in a small class in a public school, with the children of tenant
farmers and factory workers. That experience stayed with her. That it’s not a political democracy, but it’s about what Tocqueville meant, when he conceived of democracy in America. Khalil, Khalil talked
about election day in 2008, when he went, he was living in Bloomington, Indiana, and he was part of a Get
Out the Vote effort for the candidate then, Barack Obama. About two miles off campus, he knocked on a home, and an older white man
took great offense to him, stepped out of his house, and told Khalil he was not
welcome on the property, and wanted him to leave immediately. Although Obama went on to make
history a few hours later, Khalil writes, “I could see firsthand how
much anger and bitterness” “some folks carried in their hearts” “over that Presidential election.” “As a black man in a
nearly 90% white county,” “in a state that hadn’t
voted for a Democrat” “in 44 years,” “I walked a little taller
the day after the election,” “but stayed close to home.” Meghan, Meghan told me about, right after Saddam had been, Saddam Hussein had lost power in Iraq, she was traveling around the country, speaking to a really wide range of Iraqis, to ask them what they
wanted for their country. All of them said, a government that we can hold accountable. Dani, Dani writes about, wrote to me about, in 2010, when his father-in-law was
jailed by Erdogan in Turkey, along with hundreds of
other government opponents. It’s not a pleasant memory, but it really sets the
stage for some of the things he wants to talk about about global norms. Finally, Catherine says
she grew up in South Dakota and Minnesota and didn’t think
too much about democracy, until she was an exchange
student in 1976 in Uruguay, in the darkest days of the dictatorship, and finally began to
understand what the absence of democracy might mean. With that, please welcome our panelists. (audience applauds) I’m gonna ask each of
them to briefly speak about this question, are democracies in peril? Just give us a brief, like
three to five minute take, and then, we’re gonna get
into some discussion up here, between the panelists, and then we’re gonna
open it up to questions from all of you. Really looking forward
to a robust, provocative, exciting discussion. Marshall, take it away. – Are we supposed to stand or sit? – You can sit. I give you permission. – Oh, thank you. All right, good. Five minutes is a tough constraint. I just heard three minutes, so I don’t know. – I’m always pushin’ that. – I’m gonna read, I’m gonna read quickly. ‘Cause this seems like a very, probably the most critical topic we have to deal with right now. At this time of almost daily
political, moral and social assaults, emanating from the White House, many of which are linked to
calls for immediate action, it’s easy to see Donald
Trump as the problem, rather than the evidence of
a much deeper set of problems in American democracy, that
have had years in the making. Political scientist, Sid Verba, once observed that liberal democracy is a promise that this form of government can enable equality of voice to balance inequality of resources. I would add, and whether
access to those resources depends on wealth, race, gender, or as is most often the case, a combination of all three. It was de Tocqueville who recognized that making democracy work though, would depend on what he called, knowledge of how to combine, or how to organize. He understood civic associations, parties, churches, to be
great schools of democracy, in which individuals
could learn to discern their common interests, equip themselves with
skills of self-government, and develop the empathy to
support solidaristic action. Going well beyond the
aggregation of individual voices, to the creation of collective capacity, this could make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, it takes the power of organized people to make democracy work. In the U.S., this has
been a challenging balance to strike, as a result of
the inequality built into our electoral structures, crafted 250 years ago, to preserve the power of
local elites of the day, accommodate slave states and free, and small states and large,. First, by the post
winner-take-all elections, the electoral college, and the Senate, in which
400,000 citizens in Wyoming have the same number of votes too, as 25 million citizens in California. From time to time however, associations like those
de Tocqueville described, many of them organized to link local, state and national action, incubated social movements. Movements of moral reform
that could overcome the fragmentation, such as temperance, abolition, agrarian reform, suffrage, labor reform, civil rights, conservation and so forth. Much of the time, when their focus was
on broadening equality, they strengthened democracy. At other times, when they were in reaction to
efforts to broaden equality, they weakened democracy. Since 1976, however, this balancing act got harder, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Buckley v. Valeo, that money is speech, crushing efforts to expand equal voice, by limiting campaign spending, the demand, trying instead to
limit campaign contributions, supply, which in the face of
an almost insatiable demand, driven by the development of
new information technologies, new specialties, and a
new class of professionals who built what Adam Sheingate calls, a business of politics, which in the 2012 election cycle, earned some 8.2 billion dollars. I’ll come back and say more about that. This has reduced the
power of organized people. Volunteer-based organizing
that depends on engagement with a motivated, committed
and active constituency, while enhancing the power of wealth. Why bother with volunteers,
except for photo ops, when there’s much more profit to be made using social media, earn
media and purchase media, all of which yield far
more profitable commissions than training volunteers. At the same time, advocacy
groups seem to confuse organizing, engaging people
to work with each other, with mobilizing, gets of
lots of tweets to Twitter, or even turning out lots of
people to protest, one time. But without building
the collective capacity to do so strategically, which produced very mixed
results documented by Zeynep Tufekci, in her new book, Twitter and Tear Gas. Another consequence of this turning, has been, with few exceptions, to abandon financial reliance
on dues paying constituency, in favor of dependency
on the largess of donors, often beneficiaries of the very policies many of the advocacy groups
would like to change. Given all this, is it really surprising, the steady growth of neo-liberal ideology, policies and practices, which have undermined the legitimacy, capacity and effectiveness
of the most important form of organized people,
democratic government itself, and is in many ways, in the absence of an effective,
progressive response, responsible for the
creation of a constituency, so ripe for the Donald
Trumps of this world. But as Tom Hayden once said, “Change is slow except when it’s fast” We are in a fast moment right now. Chickens come home to roost, inconvenient truths confront us, small differences can yield big changes, like 70,000 votes, and the choices we make really matter. So as another American radical, labor organizer and songwriter, Joe Hill, exclaimed, when facing a firing squad, “It’s not time to mourn, but to organize.” – Marshall, you saying
that democracy is about giving equal voice in an environment of unequal resources. – Yeah. – And that movements that embrace broader equalities
strengthen democracy. – Yeah. – So, at this moment, are democracies in peril? – Yeah. – You believe they’re
in peril because of the, because that equal voice is threatened? – Yeah, I think the whole way in which wealth has come to dominate
the whole political process. I don’t just mean campaign contributions, but I mean, even the way campaigns are conducted. They’ve been turned into
marketing operations. Not organizing. So the work of politics,
which is getting people to engage with each other,
learn with each other, act together, doesn’t get done. Unfortunately, some of the
new technology facilitates the same thing happening, in advocacy groups. So what you wind up is
a whole lot of marketing of individual stuff, but without creating
the collective capacity to act together, to learn with each other, and to act with the power we need. But it’s not just a vacuum, the vacuum’s been filled
by this new business. It’s one of the things
I think distinguishes us from the Western European democracies, where there are real constraints
on campaign spending. We don’t really have that. That’s why we have this
huge industry here. This industry, you announce you’re doing anything, boy, they swoop right in. So trying to rebuild a politics
that’s people power based, is really challenging. I think, but I also think that we have an opportunity
for that right now. As evidenced, for example,
by a group like Indivisible, that’s scaffolded 7,000
groups into existence in local areas all over the country. I think the question is, whether we can step up, and actually turn this around. – Jenny. – Well, I hope we’ll get back
to wealth and organizing. I want to talk about
the perils of populism. I want to define populism first, as combining three factors. First, is an assumption
that the people are unified, and purer and better
than the corrupt elites. Second, that the establishment
and the elites are corrupt, and they’re the enemy. Third, that a strong
leader channels the will of the unified people, stands for that will, and rightly mobilizes it. So they’re the three elements, the unified people, corrupt elites, and a strong leader. Left and right wing populist
movements have both of those, all of those characteristics. The right will add to it a fourth element, which is anger and at an out group, which is defined as not the people. So we, the unified people, stand with our leader, and then there is this out group. So the left wing is kind
of dyadic, leader, people, and the right wing populism is triadic, leader, people, enemy in
the marginalized group. Why is this a peril to democracy? First, because it’s
anti-pluralist in the deepest way. The concept of a unitary people excludes the dissenters, excludes everybody else. It may fit some early models of democracy, but it doesn’t fit what we
want democracy to be today, which is inclusive of all citizens. It’s anti-pluralist. It’s also anti-rights. Classical democracy in Athens, I teach about classical
democracy in Athens, that didn’t come bundled with rights. But democracy has evolved, to become democracy plus
rights, all intertwined. The unified people’s will, and that whole concept of
a unified people’s will, it’s impatient with this idea of rights. It tends to override rights. That’s populism. What are its causes? Basically, I think, economic insecurity plus
good reason to think that the elites don’t care. It’s not just stupidity. It’s correct analysis. Some of these causes are
inequality, globalization, automation, decline in union membership, good jobs concentrating in cities, the cities cosmopolitan
values becoming dominant, status degradation. When you’ve only got a
high school education, and everyone and the average
education is going up, the value of your education declines. And then, immigration,
which is a trigger cause. It’s a cause with a human face. That’s the problem, we’ve been asked to talk
about problems and solutions. I have lots of suggestions
about how to deal with those underlying causes, but I’m
not gonna explore them now. Here I want to raise something, that I don’t think the left, for example, has taken seriously enough. Which is the trigger cause of immigration. In Europe, including Sweden,
the Scandinavian countries, as well as France, Germany, Greece, Italy, England. The trigger cause for
right-wing populist parties has been immigration. In the U.S., immigration
was the trigger cause for the Tea Party, and the trigger cause
for the Trump campaign. Now by trigger, I mean it sets off, it ignites, those underlying causes. It may not be much of a cause itself, but it has a way of igniting
these deeper issues. So we need, I think, a better immigration regime, where we balance our desire
to spread opportunity to people beyond our borders, welcome new people into the country, with all the advantages
that gives us, by the way, the people in this room, of diversity, innovation, overall economic growth. We need to balance those very good things. I think some sensitivity
to managing the pace of change in democracy, and a need to attend to the sentiments of those who’ve been the losers from policies that by and large have been extremely beneficial to
everyone in this room. The country’s seeing some
dramatic social changes, thank God. The percentage of immigrants
at the last measurement is just one percentage
point lower than the highest its ever been in the United States, 14%. Last time it reached that percentage, it resulted in a punishing
anti-immigrant bill. But people can adapt, we all know that. In the U.S., we have adapted, to high percentage and
large number of immigrants, to gay marriage, to women’s greater power, to lots of sweeping social changes. But the people who’ve decided
to stay where they were born, not moving to the cities, you all have moved to the cities. The people who have
not moved to the cities are not as good at change
as perhaps you all are. They are also the economic losers, where we, in this room, are the winners. Because the thought
prime locus of discontent is the illegality of
some current immigrants, I suggest a solution in which we legalize all current residents of the U.S. If people entered illegally,
pay a fine, become legal. At the same time, we should
create a verifiable and required social security card, and institute strong
sanctions against employers for hiring illegal employees. Then we can maintain current
levels of immigration. I think this’ll be controversial, and so I throw it out for our discussion. Until we’re able to make
all current immigrants in this country legal, we need to support the Deferred Action
for Childhood Arrivals. Where’s Doug? He’s somewhere in this room. Anywhere, or Dean is
somewhere in this room, he wrote a great letter. This Deferred Action
for Childhood Arrivals is something that we need to support both personally, and institutionally, and I’m proud of Harvard
and the Kennedy School for doing so. – Jenny, are democracies in peril? You think yes, in that
populism is one of the primary dangers. – One danger. I think growing inequality
is a huge danger. I thought others might talk about that. It is one very important
danger that I think we’re not paying sufficient attention to the causes of. – That part of your suggested solution, or way of helping to rescue democracy, is to look more seriously at immigration, because of the populist
response it provokes. – To immigration and to
the other deeper causes, many of which I listed. I picked immigration, because I thought it would be the most controversial. I thought if I came out in favor of reducing inequality, most people would, you know, agree with me. One of the big questions
is, how do we do it? The answer is, among other things, through our tax system. But, I wanted to touch
on immigration because I think we have not given the serious intellectual
attention and can do spirit that we have at the Kennedy School, to thinking through
what could be solutions that could be broadly acceptable. – Khalil. – While there is no question
that President Trump is a threat to American democracy, from the Russian involvement
in the election itself, to his abuse of the emoluments clause, to separation of powers. It isn’t clear that the current
state of democratic politics in America is not somehow
still a rough index of the actual preferences and
beliefs of many Americans. In which case, democracy is working. Or, is the free exchange of
ideas and related political participation, including
beliefs in alternative facts, for example, functioning as
well as could be expected? I think the answer is yes. This does not mean that
the extraordinary influence of a foreign power and evidence
of actual voter suppression, through new I.D. laws
and greater restrictions on access to polls and voting, is not the most explicit evidence
of our democracy in peril. But that still leaves us
facing existential challenges that precede the 2016 election, such as unprecedented economic inequality, what Archon Fung titles in a
recent Boston Review essay, “It’s the Gap, Stupid.” Unlimited money in politics, and resurgent white supremacy
and low grade anti-blackness. It’s more common and invidious cousin, just to name a few. In other words, one could
imagine the same panel here today, even if Hillary
Clinton were in office. Facing an intransigent
Republican majority in Congress, and state governments, the same Brexit and North Korea threats, and my best guess, is that
even without President Trump, the tiki torch bearers
would have still gathered in Charlottesville, to protest
the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, because an African-American
high school student, a year and a half ago, set off the current decision
to remove the statue. One way to think about this
bold, young person’s act, and the consequences of it, is to put it in the context
of the long view of black, small d, democratic politics. In 2012, the political
scientist Michael Dawson said, quote, “Today there is
a disconnect between” “black organizing and other
mobilizations on behalf” “of labor, suffrage and
radical economic reform.” “Even worse, the black civil society,” “that in the past supported
flourishing black activism,” “is today weaker than it was
for most of the 20th century.” “Without a mobilized,” There might be someone calling. “Without a mobilized black politics,” “American democracy is
even more vulnerable to” “internal attacks by those
who have been openly” “suspicious of mass democratic
movements for decades.” End quote. If Dawson is right, President Obama’s claim that the vision of sharecroppers and their grandchildren, who voted for him, was that their vision, voted for him, was achieved in his election, should have called for
activating a black politics. One Dawson defines variously as multi-racial and progressive. At the national level,
rather than discarding or transcending it. Because if the legacy
of those who struggle for a meaningful place
in American democracy, inspired what many imagined unachievable, marriage equality, for example. Why strip the nation of
perhaps its greatest asset? Its history of political dissent to expand and make meaningful,
multi-racial democracy. I could argue by way of
measurement that Glenn Beck and company were exactly right, when they claimed Obama’s
professed universalism was indeed a sly cover
for his black agenda. What liberals dismissed as
retrograde white supremacy, it turns out, is one side of a shared belief
by liberals and conservatives that blackness cannot contain or embody the best of America’s
democratic traditions. I think here of your voter. This is nothing new. Historian Nikhil Singh Has written, quote, “American liberalism, from
Myrdal’s an American Dilemma,” “to President Bill Clinton’s
National Conversation on Race,” “has consistently
underestimated, or devalued,” “the autonomous dimensions of
black political discourse.” “Extolling instead American
political culture,” “as the ablest, if not the only,” “ideological source of” “black struggles for
justice and equality.” “This vindication is history of America’s” “self-transcendence of the racial past” “that dominates the present,” “is predicated upon a
national forgetting of” “what Frederick Douglass called,” “the standpoint of the
victims of American history.” With history as tailwind,
scholar Lisa Duggins, predicted months after Obama’s election, in March of 2009, that because of the crisis
of global capitalism, first born, attached
to the placenta of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, she writes, “New forms of
authoritarian oligarchy” “transformed modes of
participatory democracy,” “with surgent xenophobic nationalisms,” “all of these seem possible as responses” “to a dramatic economic downturn.” So here we are. The Charlottesville riot,
will in the short term, galvanize good people to
stand up against naked and bold displays of white
supremacy, and neo-Nazism. But the riot will not
galvanize those same people to reject the systemic
logic of anti-blackness, which is also anti-Latino, anti-native, anti-Muslim, and anti-other, more generally, and extends like toxic
smog over queer communities of difference. These all effect immigration,
criminal justice, housing, education, and
economic development. Don’t get me wrong, many white Americans admire, respect, and even love other
Americans who happen to be black, or Mexican, or Muslim. They have a much harder
time admiring, respecting and loving categorically, black Americans, native Americans, Mexican Americans or Muslim Americans, just as they love themselves. Part of this is due to,
what I call, damage imagery. Each of these groups is damaged by dent of their own history, or
culture, or nationality, or religion. The price of the ticket,
as James Baldwin once said, is to admit the flaws of
your separate identity, which means your history,
your heritage and beliefs, renounce yourself, and embrace America, which is already marked as white. Most white Americans, even for immigrants, never had to do the same. The government marked
citizenship as white, from the beginning, and
simply expanded the borders of inclusion over time. But the borders of
whiteness have never fallen, despite the cry of white nationalists. My guess is that they need to
spend more time in museums. White identity is the mortar
that binds the foundation of every institution in America. It is the air we breathe, the beauty we emulate, it is the culture that
borrows, commodifies, appropriates non-white culture, and accomplishment as its own. Even in the age of Obama, to be truly exemplary, and successful, was to be post-black. As the writer Turay described, or in the words of
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, to be transcendent, like Oprah, to move past blackness. So, allow me to close with
a few recommendations, some borrowed. One, deal with racial resentment, attack it head-on, and build a new civic
culture around racial equity that looks to Germany
and Canada for clues. Two, along those lines, a new civic culture must take seriously the need for a new
origin story of America. That work has the potential for making multi-racial alliances. In social movements, the truer
history of an enlightenment idea of democracy, which produced, on its own, gave us a slave republic. The rest came at tremendous
cost and sacrifice to real people, and not a manifest dream. Immigrants, as Jennifer Hochschild notes, especially Latinos, must
be welcomed with greater intentionality into the
fold of this history, so as to resist the
temptation to assimilate into the tired myth of
American exceptionalism. Today’s DACA decision only
makes the matter more urgent. This is precisely the
same work by they way, that a new civic culture
intentionally aims to do among working class white Americans. Four, government must reclaim
the role of expressing our collective values and
responsibility to each other, and not the private marketplace. Five, an anti-tax way of life, the starting point, seemingly,
for every conceivable policy question, is not just
an economic debate about how to generate balanced
growth with public investment in education and infrastructure, it is also a cultural and spiritual debate about how we view mutual
obligations to each other. Six, and the last of
these recommendations, the increasing class proximity, and economic insecurity of the 80% of black and white and brown, will continue to threaten
American democracy beyond President Trump’s years. Without a fundamental
reckoning and reconsideration of what Americans owe each other, within the context of
a new shared history. To come back to that young black protester in Charlottesville, her legacy is ours to carry forward. The future of American
democracy may or may not depend on a reinvigorated black
politics, or black public sphere. Obama maybe the last of that century and a half long journey. But the future does depend, I would argue, on learning that history,
in all its complexity, in order to build an
equally durable set of democratic values, and
practices of dissent to survive another 150 years. – Wow. Khalil. (audience applauds) So, are democracies in peril? Yes, but that we might be
having the same discussion if Hillary Clinton was President, and that there are a number
of underlying factors you brought up, but, you really focused on
America’s history and race in that history, and our
inability and resistance, in part, on our public leaders, to really engage deeply with that history, and with the American people. That’s a real barrier. That’s part of what’s
threatening our democracy, is our inability to do that work. Is that fair? – Yeah, so the line about wanting to see evolution
as a transcendence over this black problem, or this racial past, or this conundrum, that we see in 50 year increments, to somehow move the needle
just a little bit further. I wanted to tap into
this most recent period, which the Obama two terms represented, for many people certainly, the beginning of the
moment of transcendence, and that language, and I’m not using that other word, that has now been put into
the dustbin of history, but this notion that to arise to something that moves past race, is the ultimate goal. I’m arguing just the opposite here. I shout out, essentially,
Germany and Canada as two places, in the 20th century, who’ve made a commitment
not to transcending their racial past, but embracing it as a prophylactic, as a
societal vaccination against the worst forms of tribalism
that can eat at the soul of any democracy, and they seem to be doing
much better than we are. We have a lot to draw on, from the notion of dissent, helping us to get to where we
all claim to be proud to be, yet we keep falling back into this abyss that won’t go away. – Wow. Meghan. I feel like I got about five
forums worth of discussion, and we didn’t even get to the
second half of the panel yet. Meghan. – Thank you, and good evening everyone. Usually, when I’m sitting here, I’m talking to you about foreign policy. But tonight, I have
the opportunity to talk a little bit about U.S. politics, and I’m happy for that opportunity. My comments are gonna be simple and brief. I know that there’s a lot of opinions here we want to hear. Before I make them, I
want to acknowledge a very good friend, EJ Dion, who
is a visiting professor with us for this semester. He has written on this topic widely, and I wish he could join us up here. Hope you’ll contribute to the discussion. I think at this moment,
in American politics, it’s easy to be filled with despair. I certainly have seen a lot of that in our classrooms, in my office hours, in the hallways, the streets, not just of Cambridge, but of other parts of America as well. But I also feel that it’s not a time for complacency, but I don’t see complacency, and that’s actually one of the things that if I could dare interject
a tiny bit of optimism into the conversation. One of the things that
does make me optimistic is I don’t think, certainly
people in this room, but much beyond this room,
have met this historical moment with complacency, and I think
that is really important to acknowledge. There’s one other thing
I’d like to put out there. It might be controversial, but I think it’s also worth mentioning, and at least in my view, we’re not in a crisis of
liberal democracy per se, maybe a crisis of our political parties. I’ll say a few words about that. I don’t see a really
active and vibrant debate in our country, and I’m happy about this, about whether liberal
democracy is actually the right form of
governance for this country. That, we’re debating a lot of things, and a lot of very important
issues have been raised, but I don’t see people making the argument and gaining traction that a different form of governance would be
better suited to America, to Americans. That a liberal democracy, one that is a representative government, one that is civilian led, and hopefully, should ensure the rights of all citizens, that that is still the
superior way in which to resolve our differences
and tackle our problems, which are huge. While I might not answer the question, is this a crisis of liberal
democracy affirmatively, I would say we are having a real crisis of our political parties. There, I say both of our political parties are really not living up to the moment, in terms of what we need them to do to ensure that populism doesn’t turn into authoritarianism
or something else. I’ll say a word about each party, I’ll be bipartisan in
that regard, I guess. On the Democratic side, I would say, and this is not exclusively the role of the Democratic Party, but as the party of
opposition, so to speak, I would say there’s a
particular responsibility and role for that party
to really think about policies and prescriptions and platforms to address the social and economic ills that really are at the heart of populism. I think we’ve touched on a lot of things that are behind this
particular political moment, and I don’t wanna say that one is totally dominant over the others, but I do feel like there’s
a real crisis of economics and mobility in our country, and one that requires
some really innovative thinking, and new policy prescriptions. We can call it whatever we want, but certainly, this problem of, call it problem or, this reality of technological change, I think is one that is
with us for the long run, and it is exacerbating this
huge gap in our country, and it is creating more
and more of a distance between those who have, which we happened to be in this room, and those who have not. That is corrosive to democracy. What are we going to do? What are the specific prescriptions
we’re going to pursue? Again, not exclusive
to the Democratic Party as a responsibility, but hopefully as the
party of the opposition, this would be where they
would really put forward some alternative ideas. On the Republican Party side, I also see this party
falling down in the face of its responsibilities of
this historical moment. Daniel Ziblatt, who is also from Harvard, recently wrote a book about conservatism. He looks at the history
of conservative parties, and talks about, that where populism is stopped from being a
real challenge to democracy, is when conservative parties actually take responsibility. What he’s describing is a situation where the right of the conservative party, ’cause obviously it’s not monolithic, actually is taken on by
the moderate conservatives. What we would like to see, what I would like to see, as a Republican, is
conservative Republicans to take on the right wing
of the conservative party. Not to see the right wing
of the conservative party as a vehicle for approaching
particular economic or other political agendas, but to really actually call out the right, when it is violating the
values and principles that a lot of conservatism does stand for. This sounds very abstract, but
let me give you an example. We saw this in the French elections just in the spring. We saw Fillon, who is a real conservative, come out at against Marine Le Pen, who was even to the right of him, in support of a candidate, Macron, who was effectively a socialist, or just recently departed
the Socialist party. So you saw the moderate conservative part come out against the far right, in favor of an alternative vision. One that was much more inclusive. Again, there’s a lot to be done, I think we’ve began to touch on it, but those are some of the
ideas I wanted to throw out this evening. – Meghan, you don’t sound
like you’re that convinced that democracies are in peril. – Well, I mean, when you say democracies, are you talking about every
democracy in the world? I think there’s challenges
across the board. They’re very different in the nature. Is American democracy in peril? You know, I’m worried about a lot things, but they tend to be a
little bit more specific than that particular charge, because I actually think that we do, to answer Marshall’s question, do we have the ability to right ourselves? Do we have the ability to reform? Do we have the ability
to actually take charge of our system? I think the answer to that is yes. I would say I’m concerned,
but not despairing, how does that work? – That’s good. So we have a more
contrarian point of view. But we’ll take it. – Concerned.
– [Host] Dani. – One thing that happens when you watch a country like Turkey devolve into a really
authoritarian regime, in a number of a few years, is you get a better sense
of how you would make a distinction whether
democracy is in peril or not. I think there are two things that happened in very
rapid order in Turkey, and actually, many other countries that have gone through
similar process recently. I don’t think have so far
happened in the United States, but I think are going to be the test. One is what happens with the judiciary. That is, do you have an
independent judiciary, or the judiciary becomes
completely subordinated to the government, the Prime
Minister or the President. That, essentially in Turkey, literally in a few years, it was a complete transformation there. The second is what happens with the media. Is the media, the mainstream media, still remain a voice of
significant diversity of opinion. Or, as in fact happened
in a country in Turkey, isn’t sort of explicit censorship, as much as self censorship. That people are simply afraid of expressing views
that they might view as going against what government wishes. When I look at the United
States from that perspective, is what’s going to happen to
the judiciary under Trump. What’s going to happen
to the media under Trump. Those become really the critical issues. It’s not democracy that’s in peril. Maybe disagree a little bit with Meghan, but it’s liberal democracies in peril. Erdogan was elected democratically. Victor Orban was elected democratically. Rodrigo Duterte was
elected democratically. Nicolas Maduro was elected democratically. But of course, what those
countries have seen, is essentially this process
of the subordination of the judiciary and the
rule of law and a free media sort of under total government control. That’s really the key test
for the United States, whether this fact that
these institutions have much greater historical
continuity and of history, whether they will actually
save them from the kind of assault that
clearly we’ve already seen, but have had, I think luckily, a various well little impact. Now I’ve mentioned a number of countries, and I started from Turkey. That’s, I think, it’s an important message that this phenomenon
is a global phenomenon. The United States has a lot of problems. When we’re talking about populism, this is a global phenomenon. I think, therefore, to understand it, that suggests that there
must be something common that’s going on, that’s driving this. That particular cleavages
and divisions and problems around which populists wrap themselves in order to provide a platform, might be very context specific. Might be very country specific. Maybe it’s going to be
immigration in one country, maybe it’s going to be
foreign corporations, as it is in Latin America often. Or it’s going to be the United States, as it is in Turkey. The other, the enemy, might be different, but the question is, what is the common forces
that’s driving this? I think there’s two things. I think one, basically,
is structural phenomenon. That liberal democracy
is very hard to maintain. I think historically, it’s an exception. When you think about who is
the political constituency for a liberal democracy, they are the minority, they are the excluded groups, they are the people whose
rights would be violated in any liberal democracy. They are the ideological, ethnic, racial, religious minorities, whose rights would be trampled
under a liberal democracy. By their very nature, they
don’t have any political weight in the system. Yes, the majority, the
people want elections so they can actually
militate against the elite, but there isn’t a political constituency for a liberal democracy, and I think that makes liberal
democracy fundamentally, historically very weak, suggesting that maybe this is a very, we’ve just gone through a
very exceptional period. But I think also the
commonality that is also happening around, across a
very wide range of countries, suggests that there is something, which is a process, if you will, marketization, globalization, the sort of changes in technology, which have created a lot
of economic insecurity, a lot of inequity, at the same time as
governments in a lot of places have given up their
social responsibilities, and the welfare states have been weakened, and there’s been a disjuncture between the growth of these market insecurities and the role of the
government in providing some of the protections. In part, because, I think
the elites have hidden behind a kind of technocratic globalism, that either downplayed these problems, or essentially, have said, wait long enough and you’ll
eventually be better off. Or, the third alternative, which is we don’t have any choice. This sort of globalization
and technological change just falls on our lap and we can’t do anything about it. The risk really is in
terms of these regimes, is really avoiding these two extremes of, either sort of nationalist populism, or something like a
technocratic globalism, and there are plenty of
technocratic globalist regimes around the world. A perfect example today would be Greece. Essentially, where basically
policies run out of Brussels and Berlin, but many other Eurozone
countries are in the same zone. How do you find that middle thing? I think there is no shortage of precise ideas or policies
about how to fix inequality, how to get some of these things. But I think what we’re lacking
is a kind of a narrative, a kind of a language that is able to avoid those two extremes. I think one that would have to make, I think patriotism, a
respectable word again, and I think would have to
talk about some kind of an inclusive citizenship, and position itself as much against, sort of a technocratic
globalism as it does, for an eco-nationalist populism. – You started by talking about
the judiciary and the media as two warning signs about
when a democracy is in peril, and identifying places over the world, in the last decade, where a democratically elected leader, or group of leaders, have really sought to dismantle both an independent judiciary
and an independent media. I think you’re asking
a provocative question, is there some common cause of the challenges to democracy, potentially in globalization. Is that a good summary? – Yep. (audience laughs) – Just checking. Catherine. – Well, I do international relations in the comparative
politics of Latin America. So when someone asks me to talk about, are democracies in peril, I think globally, and abut global trends, and I don’t mainly think
just about the United States. Also, I do what I often
do when I face an issue, and that is, I like to look at trends, I like to look at data. So I’ve asked them to put up, I guess we’re not gonna get it up here. – [Host] There it is. – There it is. Okay. One thing I wanna do is just, you know, we wouldn’t
be the Kennedy School, if we didn’t get a little
bit of data, right? I wanted you to put up
a trend of the number of democracies and
non-democracies in the world from 1800 to 2010. First, I wanna actually correct a mistake that Dani made, but he’s an economist, so we don’t expect him to … Election, no. Elections alone don’t make democracy. No political scientist would
tell you the mere presence of elections make democracy. So it’s not just elections, any election makes a democracy, and rule of law makes a liberal democracy. So Turkey does not qualify anymore, it doesn’t matter if
Turkey had elections, okay? It no longer qualifies as a democracy. (audience laughs) No, I’m just saying, people mak … That’s common to make that mistake, but it’s important to clarify. The reason I want to clarify is this data is not data just about elections. This is data about systems
that are competitive, there’s a party competition, participatory, and have the basic rights that make that participation
and competition meaningful. How can I say, these are not easy
democracies in this case. So we see a trend of this important growth in democracy. You see the surge in the ’90s, which we call the Third Wave of democracy, and you see around 2000, by the way, the democracies
are the green line there. The autocracies are the red line. The authoritarian
regimes are the red line. We see right around 2000, there’s a switch, where democracies, for the first time in human history, overtake autocracies. In terms of global trends, what we’re worried about is that that democracy
line has now flattened out, and has that zigzag on it. There are democracies
in peril in the world. Yet, I want to put it in a context that suggests, right? That the peril we’re worried about may not be able to reverse
these longer historical trends. There’s a second slide
and I forgot my clicker. Can you change it? There, yay. Okay, these are the
number of people living under different political regimes. ‘Cause people might say, okay, number democracy, but what about people? The green are people living in democracy, the red are people living under autocracy, authoritarian regimes, and the yellow-orange
are people living under various kinds of semi-democracies. The trend is equally there, when we look at the number of people living under democracy. I do believe that many democracies in the world are in peril. Including the United States. Whether or not we are gonna reverse
these trends has to do, I think, with other things. It depends. And it depends a lot on whether
people believe in democracy, and whether people fight
to support and sustain their democracies. I completely agree with Marshall. It’s about organizing, but not just about organizing. It’s about organizing
by people who believe in protecting democracy. One of our colleagues, Scott Mainwaring, has wrote an amazing book on democracy, The Rise and Fall of
Democracy in Latin America. Points out that one of the
most important explanations for the fall of democracy
in Latin America, is that people stopped
believing in democracy. Not just the right wing stopped believing. The left wing and the right wing stopped believing in democracy, and this contributed to
the fall of democracy. I wanna just briefly,
in the time remaining, use Venezuela to talk
about some of these issues. ‘Cause Venezuela’s an example, it’s not just that Venezuelan
democracy’s in peril. Venezuela has lost its
democracy despite its elections. Venezuela, a country that had a long-term tradition of democracy. When I started graduate school in 1981, Venezuela was one of two countries in the whole region, with Costa Rica, that was democratic, and that could claim to have a
sustained democratic history. It’s an illustrative story of how we lose, how we can lose democracy. Venezuela has become a dictatorship. I don’t take that word lightly. I use it precisely. I don’t have time, I think
some of you know the history, I don’t have time to go into it, but part of the story
has to do exactly with something that Dani did say
with which I agree very much, and that is this question
of the judicial branch. But the dilemma was,
when elected president, Hugo Chavez started to
undermine the judiciary. Started to pack the Supreme Court. People did not go out
and defend the judiciary. Because they were so
enamored with populists, this populist democracy, and here, very much picking
up on what Jenny said. They were so enamored with the people, the unified people and the
great man, Hugo Chavez, that they were willing
to see their judiciary basically destroyed. It became a tool, as we’ve seen recently, a mere tool of the executive branch. The one thing I think that’s
happening in the world today, is that, that’s different than the past, is that these new
electoral authoritarians, as our colleague, Steve
Levitsky in the gov department has called them. These electoral authoritarians
are kind of smarter than the old coups of the past. They’re doing this transition
to authoritarianism gradually, they’re flying under the radar, in some cases. They’re using their power. These governments are using their power to try to bolster their legitimacy. They’re more legitimate
because they were elected, and because they’re not
carrying out a military coup in the old style. They’re carrying out a
populist coup of some sort. What most alarms me about Venezuela story, is that, for a long time, most of Latin America, most of now democratic Latin America, gave Venezuela a pass. And a lot of the left in
this country did as well. We did it because, I’ve had conversations with
my human rights activist colleagues in Argentina. They said, oh. Chavez is doing inclusion, and because he’s doing inclusion, we’re gonna just give him
a pass on the judiciary, on the political prisoners, and on the other rights
and rule of law issues that ultimately were
undermining democracy. So nowadays, most of us
have come to the realization that democracy no longer
exists in Venezuela, but we ignore the 10 or 15 years, where people were trying to
pretend it wasn’t happening, because they wanted to
congratulate Chavez on inclusion. I think the issue here is that, it’s very important that
people believe in democracy, and believe that inclusion, ultimately, is gonna happen best under democracies. What Nico didn’t mention, when I said my, I said I learned about
democracy in Uruguay in 1976, when I learned what
it was like in its absence. But I also learned about
democracy when the Uruguaians, in the 1980s and to the present, reclaimed their democracy, and created one of the
most vigorous, I think, and vibrant democracies
in the world today. With deep levels of inclusion. We have this notion, somehow we need, somehow we
need this authoritarian edge to be redistributive, be inclusionary, but countries like Uruguay
tell us a different story. That it’s possible to have deep democracy and deep inclusion. Thank you. – Wow. (audience applauds) In the interest of time, I’m gonna go right to
questions from the audience, even though I have many
questions for our panel, so please start gathering at
the four microphones here. As we do that, I just wanna say, this is what I love
about this institution. It is an intoxicating mix
of ideas and thinking. Marshall talking about equal
voice and unequal resources and the role of money in
speech in a democracy. Jenny talking about the
dangers of populism, and what that unified will of the people, what that means for rights, and also what a solution
might look like in the ways we think about immigration policy. Khalil talking about how we
have to rewrite our history. We have to have a new story for our nation that faces the reality of our history. Meghan, with a hopeful
look at the challenges the political parties are facing. Not so much, perhaps, the
institutions of democracy. Dani, talking about the
judiciary and the media as key institutions we
have to carefully watch, and about common causes across the globe, as we look at these challenges in democracies around the world. Quite appropriately, Catherine, looking at some actual data, and some of the global trends, and thinking about what
this means in the context of Venezuela and the
challenges of opportunity of inclusion in democracies. I’m gonna go, I’m gonna start up here
at this microphone. This is our first forum, and so I have to remind you, there are three crucial rules to asking questions in the forum. One, identify yourself, name and program. Two, keep it brief, so we can get as many
questions as possible. Three, it must be a question, it ends with a question mark. Please. (audience laughs) – Hello, my name is Tobias
Garnett, I’m an MPP1. I had a question for Professor O’Sullivan. You say that there hasn’t
been, at least in the U.S., this cause for optimism,
because there hasn’t been this discussion about
whether liberal democracy is the best way to govern the U.S. But I wonder, given the
context that Professor Rodrik talks about in, for example, Turkey, or what we see in Venezuela. What do you think that discussion
would actually look like. Whether you think, for example, Trump’s attacks on the press here, talks about judiciary and its role, may be exactly that discussion playing out, or what you think that
would look like instead, because in so many of those regimes you see liberal democracy
is exactly the cloak in which authoritarianism arise to power? – Thank you. That’s a great question. I was talking, as I think
your question understood, about the United States, not about every democracy in the world, because I do think there
are democracies in peril. What do I think that
conversation would look like? Would I recognize it if I saw it? I think there would be
a few elements of it, and one of them is what
Catherine talked about. I think there would be complacency. I think that we’re seeing
sort of the opposite of that conversation in my mind. Which doesn’t mean that, again, we should all feel happy
and sweetness and light. But the fact that there are
people who are out there, that the press is actually pushing back. That the press is now
one of the most important counterbalances to the voice of the President of the United States. The fact that we’re seeing people protest. The fact the courts are pushing back on a whole variety of things. I think that is the national conversation, and I think that’s not one about how liberal democracy is
maybe not up to snuff, not up to the challenges. You know, maybe you’re right, that I should rephrase that, and not say, I don’t see that debate about whether liberal
democracy is appropriate. It’s maybe more I don’t see the signs that I would expect, if people were willing to acquiesce, or even welcome a different
form of governance, because I think it would look, as Catherine described, as it has in other
parts of the hemisphere. – Hi, how are you? My name is David Mitrahi, I’m a (mumbles) student from Venezuela. I was wondering, for Professor Catherine, what are your thoughts on
how you run opposition, once there is a lack of democracy? How do you run opposition
when there is a dictatorship? Just your general view on that one. Thanks. – With great difficulty. Because that’s the problem. By the time you’ve lost the democracy, that’s why we have to
be so careful about it, it’s a huge struggle against great odds, as the Venezuelan
opposition has discovered. All I can suggest here is that we have classes here at the Kennedy School. We have Marshall’s class on organizing. We have Doug Johnson’s
class on strategizing for human rights. They’re all about exactly these issues. What about tactics? What kind of tactics? What kind of strategies are gonna work for the opposition to be able
to work against great odds? But the main, I think, thing to say is that it’s very hard and very long, and no one should think it’s
an easy matter to overcome. – Does anyone else on our
panel who wants to answer that? – I think a lot of you are
familiar with technology. There are a number of
places, like Sudan, Somalia, where it’s impossible
to organize elections. The opposition can’t unify very easily, because there are thousands of factions. It’s very hard for each of the factions to judge how popular they are, because
they can’t have elections. Is it possible to have an
iPhone that you could put a fingerprint in, or something like that, would be only for one person, where people could vote, not really a formal, electoral vote, but some way of registering opinion, so that the scattered opposition could gather support, and the weaker parts of
the opposition could see that they’re weaker, and that they would then
have to make coalitions with the stronger. As it is, it’s extremely hard, I think, to organize oppositions
where there is either no stage, or a very
strong authoritarian state that’s got, it’s gonna
put people who wanna create an opposition in jail. We could use some of this, sort of the get around
the government technology, to allow oppositions
to organize themselves, and also, to figure out how
not to be so disunified. We might be in a better shape. So, think about it, those of you who know
something about technology. – Just on that. It’s interesting. One of the interesting findings in Zeynep’s work is that the
reliance on the internet, and on blogging and so forth, in lieu of building real organization, has, if anything, exacerbated division, rather than brought it together. Because, you flame on the internet, and somebody else, so then
everybody’s fighting everybody, because there is no coherent
structure making decisions. There is no coherent
collective capacity to it. That’s one of the real problems. Her work is really, I think,
important to understand in what ways the social media can help, and in what ways it can inhibit, and the fact that we need
to learn how to use it well. – Give the name and the title of the book. – Zeynep Tufekci. – She’s gonna be October 27th, we’re having a forum here with Zeynep. She’s a communications scholar, teaches at UNC, and her book is Twitter
and Tear Gas, I think. – Yes, I’m Richard Grove, the Open Learning Exchange. Last week, to virtually
everyone’s surprise, the Supreme Court of Kenya
invalidated the election of the ruling party and the ruling president in that country. No one expected that. My question is, is this just a quirk, or is this something
we can learn from this, that in fact would help us move forward with the issue of the relationship between the judiciary and the election process? Did anybody follow it? – I wish I knew enough
about Kenya to speak knowledgeably about this. I just don’t know enough. It seems that this was truly a case of independent
constitutional court that acted as opposed
to what often happens, which is sort of a court
that’s politically motivated. I think this was a very rare case. I think it’s the only
second time it ever happened in sub-Saharan Africa. I think there was an earlier case, but many decades ago. I forget where, because I
was part of that discussion. I think the crucial
thing is going to be how what the follow-up is, and how the Kenyan government responds. Africa is one of these continents where, when Catherine was showing you these rising tide of democracy, where in fact, that
has been one of the big sources of improvement, in terms of people’s access
to political system and voice, and I think that’s been
extremely important. There are a number of
countries that now have had a series of elections,
more or less properly run, but there’s also been
a lot of backsliding, and Kenya was one of these things. I think it’s going to
be a question of seeing whether there’s going to
be self restraint exercised by the Kenyan government. Ultimately boils down to the
exercise of self restraint and the expectation that
the opposition will in turn, in some future state, exercise self restraint
among those who are currently incumbent. – Anyone else on the
panel wanna add anything? No, then we’ll go next. – EJ Dion, I’m grateful
to be a visiting professor here this fall, here
at the Divinity School, the Kennedy School, et cetera, in the Social Studies department. One of the seminars I’m
teaching has the tabloid title, Donald Trump and the Challenge
to Liberal Democracy. I’m grateful to this panel
full of people I’ve admired. I can now just show it to my students, sit back and say, look how smart these people are. So thank you so much. One observation, and two quick questions. By the way, I wanna say, if the world had listened
to Professor Rodrik on some of the costs of globalization, we might not be quite in this fix, thanks for what you’ve written
about that over the years. One observation, I am
with Meghan in optimism, and it goes to Marshall’s point about the kind of actual organizing, by his definition, that you’re starting to see. Even down to the precinct politics level. We’ll see if that endures, but something shifted after election day, that I think should make
us feel potentially hopeful about this difficult, in
some ways terrible, moment possibly leading us to some
place we’d actually like to be. But I think Professor Rodrik’s point on the judiciary and the media, and I would add demonization
of the opposition are why the Trump moment is disconcerting, and gives us things to watch carefully, because I think in each of those areas the judiciary, we’ve seen
it right from the beginning, his attitude toward the press, and a particular kind of
demonization of opposition, is something we have to watch, because that begins to cross the line into something that’s no
longer liberal democracy. My two questions, and this goes
to Jenny Mansbridge’s point, there’s a lot of debate
about what is triggering the reaction against liberal democracy, or right wing authoritarianism, however you wanna phrase it. Is it primarily about
immigration, identity, in some cases race, national assertion, or is it a response to economic disorder, particular problems that the working class in the wealthier nations is facing, because of globalization. I’m just curious how you
assess the relative importance of identity immigration and race versus economics. The other question, specifically
to Professor Muhammad. I appreciated your attention
to American history, and one of the things
that fascinates me is, the cycles we have seen on the
issue of race and equality. We went to Reconstruction,
and then we went to Jim Crow. There was a backlash
against Reconstruction. We had a civil rights
movement begin to grow, really in the ’40s, partly an interesting alliance
between African Americans and parts of the labor
movement, A Philip Randolph being a significant figure. A push all the way
through the ’60s that was quite successful, and then a
series of partial backlashes ever since, and then a
particularly strong one now. I think the voting rights
rollback is, to me, the most disconcerting. What is your reading of … First of all, do you
agree that there is some sense of something cyclical
about how our country has behaved politically on this question. If so, do you have any analysis? I think you all for being here tonight. – Jenny. – You asked for my assessment
of the balance between these factors. I think the economic factors
are the greatest cause, and I quote Dani as saying, the governments have given
up their responsibilities, in response to these
changing economic factors. So it’s a mixture of the economic changes that are producing insecurities
through the working class in many many countries. Governments having given
up their responsibilities to try to address that. But, and identity. I think when times are good, people can take a lot of change. People, we’re adaptable species. We create the forum. We’re always trying to think
our way out of our traps. That’s good. But when things are going badly, I think we retreat to stop, we don’t think as hard. I think, in fact, psychologists show that that tends to be the case. That’s why I intentionally
used the word trigger. That you can have a small thing, relatively small, proportionally, in the causal mix, but that can have a triggering role. Then when something’s a trigger, and you say, what’s the proportionality? The trigger may be the, what I call the proximate cause. The immediate cause, but the larger cause is this
constellation of factors, having to do with
globalization, technology, I believe, and the growing insecurity
of many many people. – I just would like to mention one fact that hasn’t been mentioned yet, in terms of U.S. democracy, and that’s the issue of nonvoting. 40% of people in this country didn’t vote. That means more people didn’t vote than voted for either
of the two candidates. The nonvoters called this election. Part of the nonvoters
were voter suppression. But part of the nonvoters were people who didn’t get around to voting. Didn’t believe that voting
was important enough, or even believe that it
was a principled position to not vote. I think that that’s something that we also need to talk about. We see in this country that
we have a right to vote, and we have a right not to vote, but we don’t talk about whether we have a civic duty to vote. We don’t talk about the
role that universities could play in trying to
get more people to vote. And we don’t talk about our own role in trying to mobilize, make sure all of our
communities are out to vote. I just wanna put that there as well, which is participation is a
central factor of democracy, and at least in this country, our participation rates are dismal. Among young people it’s very high. 50% of young people in
this country didn’t vote. – I just wanna comment on that. People vote when they think
they have something to vote for. I think, to attribute
nonvoting in the United States to just a lack of interest, is really to misdiagnose what’s going on. In a presidential election, for example, if you live in New York,
whether you vote or not makes no difference. If you live in California,
it makes no difference. If you live in Illinois,
it makes no difference. If you live in Texas,
it makes no difference. Because of the electoral college system, that makes majority voting
irrelevant in state after state. You have the first by the
post electoral district. If you get 51%, you get
100% of the representation. 49%, you get zero. Now, there are a lot of
institutional reasons that are built in, that discourage voting. And, coupled with the fact that, when people turn out to vote, it’s ’cause people are mobilizing
them to turn out to vote. Then, where you have the way the … See, the political technology, it’s really important to appreciate how the mechanics of
democracy work or don’t work. When there’s no incentive to mobilize, whoops. – Keep going. – Oh, that was dramatic. When there’s no incentive, when there’s no incentive
to turn people out, you have no Get Out the Vote campaigns in all the states I just mentioned. When we look at Hillary
got a three million vote majority in the popular vote, if there had been voter
mobilization in those states, it would’ve been a lot
more than three million. But it wouldn’t have changed
the outcome of the election. I think we really have
to look at how it is that we construct political choices. What the incentives
are to mobilize people, and not just say, people aren’t voting ’cause they don’t care. I think it makes a huge
difference about whether it actually can make a difference or not. That’s the challenge
we face is to, I think, address that one. – I completely agree with you, but I also think we need to
talk about responsibility. That is, that it’s also important
that we, as a country, talk about a civic duty to vote. – Khalil, on the second question EJ raised about cycles of more equality, and then the response. Do you agree with that kind
of assessment of history, and where are we? Is Trump in part a backlash? – I want to answer that
question by way of a response to the first question to Jenny. I try to describe a situation where we often retreat to a
false dichotomy between our race problem and our economic problem. That these are things are
not mutually constituative. I’m just gonna make a simple case for it, and an invitation to
debate at some other time. I would argue that all forms of populism in U.S. history, and it’s debatable whether
we call these things all populism, but going
back to Bacon’s Rebellion in the 17th century, which was about landless
European immigrants, indentures, trying to
figure out where they sit in this newly evolving class hierarchy. Was resolved by, ultimately, violence towards Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans, under a racialized chattel system that was in the making. You can track, just about every century, when white people have had
enough of the insecurity that they experience in an
evolving capitalist economy, that there’ll be either land taken, or stolen, from
indigenous populations, or enslaved Africans harnessed to some productive capacity, or degraded immigrants from Asia, or from the Caribbean,
or from Latin America, brought in, up through
the Bracero Program, even to today for Mexican immigrants, to resolve that economic insecurity. So my argument would be that it’s not an either or, that what we see, one
argument or theory would be, that the election of President Obama represented the end of the idea, or at least the perception,
that you could harness, effectively, these centuries long sources of resolving white economic insecurity. The notion, in the end, that with the symbolic
representation of an African American in the White House, let’s not forget the birther lie, which seemed somehow to
just make us uncomfortable and move on, but it’s there. That the election of an African American might propose, in the 21st century, the fundamental coming
to terms with the fact that white working class
economic insecurity is no different than
black economic insecurity, is no different than the social proximity that whites feel with regard
to their Hispanic neighbors in Houston, or anywhere
else in the southwest portions of this country. That would be my response
to the question about this question of economics versus race. Now, the cyclical nature
can be answered also by virtue of another question raised, about where do you find dissent. One of the calls to this history is that you could find any number of analogies, or make any number of arguments that these same groups, these out groups in America, have lived under various forms
of anti-democratic regimes, or fascist regimes, over
these long histories that I’ve described. We really have a hard time, in the United States, teaching and participating
in a civic culture, where we have to
simultaneously acknowledge the greatness of a nation of laws, and democracy and the beacon to the world, and at the same time, that
many people live under fascism in the United States. We could argue, we could
have a debate about whether it is less fascist today in certain parts of the
country than it used to be, but the fact remains that people have experienced. So the question of dissent, through the effort of those
living under oppressive regimes in this country,
there are any number of lessons about how
you build constituency, how you organize, how you make allies hip, how you move the political needle, how you transform political parties. We forget that the entire
shift of the only two political parties we’ve
had in the modern era turned on the question of race and racism, and the place that black people
would fit in this society. These things are not incidental, at all, in any way, shape or form, but our historical literacy
on this stuff is about nil. To your question of cyclical retreat, yes, absolutely. I would argue, again as a theory, is that it takes about
two generations to forget all the pain and suffering, all the dissent, all the living under fascism, to then come back around and say, oh, my God, we transcended yet another moment, but no we haven’t, because we’re setting in
motion a new generation of people who drink and
imbibe the same narrative we’ve been telling from
the very beginning, that we are a great, chosen people, we do wonderful things, we help everybody in the world, and lo and behold, it turns out that, if we’re gonna get there, that is a product of vigilance, and not a product of forgetting. – I just wanna complicate it a little bit by throwing gender into the mix. And suggest that inequality is inequality. The question of racial inequality, economic inequality,
gender-based inequality, unless they’re tackled together, they’re not tackled successfully. In other words, you can’t
fix one without the other. I showed my class today Dr. King’s talk, often called the I Have a Dream Speech, but which is actually the
Fierce Urgency of Now. The Fierce Urgency of Now Speech, 1963, was a march for jobs and freedom. It wasn’t just freedom,
in terms of racial terms, it was also jobs. I think, unless we get clear, that if we don’t tackle gender inequality, racial inequality, economic
inequality together, then the ones we don’t
tackle drag the rest down. I think that’s our challenge. I mean, a lot of people
woke up on November 9th, and discovered there
were problems in America. There’s a lot of people who
have known all their lives there’s problems in America. The challenge is to bring that together in enough of a political force to be able to attack
all those inequalities, in order to give this democracy
a better chance, I think. – On the subject of gender, I’m
gonna give our last question to to the only woman to ask a
question tonight, so far. Please. – It’s not a question about women, I apologize for that. (audience laughing) I am a feminist, so anyway. I have one question, but to ask it, I need to make two remarks before it, that I’m gonna do really briefly. First, my name is Sahara Marir, I’m the Master in Middle Eastern Studies. Professor Mansbridge, you talked about immigration in Europe, and mentioned that it’s a
trigger for the populists and the rise of the far right, and the fact that we need to find a way to change immigration laws, and still be generous
with the people coming. I just want to emphasize
the fact that it’s not us that are offering opportunities to
immigrants that are coming, they are giving us opportunities. Germany needs immigrants
to keep the welfare state. France needs immigrants
for the low income jobs, and the highest qualified jobs. We need them more than they need us. Professor O’Sullivan, when you talked … I am French. When you talked about the fact
that Fillon supported Macron. First, I want to … Your comment is extremely misleading. Macron is absolutely not a socialist, he is a regular right wing candidate. Fillon is a hard right candidate. Marine Le Pen is a far right candidate. Fillon hesitated before supporting Macron. And the whole hard right hesitated, and Fillon, when he was under Sarkozy, he implemented, he and
Sarkozy helped implement policies that are regularly
just policies that pertain to the far right in France, and the only thing that
changed is that it was socially acceptable, because
it wasn’t done by the far right, it was done by the hard right. So there is technically, theoretically, very few differences between
the hard right of France, and the far right, except the label. This comes to my question. (audience chuckles) I do have a question. Don’t you think that
democracies are also in peril, because of, what I call, fake liberalism? It’s very fashionable
and socially acceptable to call yourself liberal, and be open-minded and
open to other people, but every time our societies
are confronted with these issues, we see that the white, privileged people have always this tendency
to be extremely lenient with the populists. I understand that, as
political scientists, we need to explain phenomenons, but there is a huge difference between explaining and justifying. What a lot of us are doing here is justify the hate that these populists
and the far right have for immigrants, immigration,
anyone that is different, by sexual orientation
or gender, or whatever. Don’t you think that this is also why our democracies are in peril? Because every time we
are asked to stand up for minorities and people who are endangered, every time we have to
wait until we arrived, until we arrive to cases where Trump is leading the country. Where in France, Marine Le
Pen almost led the country. Then we have people that
only stand up to radicals, but never stand up to soft bigotry, that exists constantly, and is constantly present
in the right wing in France. They’re constantly present
in the Republican Party in the U.S., and we don’t
need to have radicals like Trump to actually fight them, but those people only stand up when, in front of radicals, and
never in front of soft bigotry. (audience applauds) – Very quickly. Yes, I agree completely
that the immigrants help the economy in the U.S., overall. I think it’s a little bit like free trade, in that, you get the benefits overall, but some areas, or individuals, bear concentrated, have concentrated problems. I think, I’m very much
in favor of things like the Groups of Five in Canada. Where you can organize to welcome, that’s for refugees,
not economic immigrants. But there are many things that we could do in this country, and in other countries, not only to welcome
immigrants in a better way, but also, to be careful of
the burdens that might be concentrated in specific areas. Like everybody in this room, really, none of us, in any way, nothing in our lives
has gotten worse because of immigrants, quite the contrary. I would say that for every
single person in this room, immigration is a huge benefit. Culturally, economically, but I think we sometimes forget that that’s not true of every single person. We have to, I think,
try to figure out ways that the winners, namely us, find out ways of protecting
the losers a bit better. I think that, if we think
about this idea constructively, we can begin to come up with
ideas of how to do that. – [Host] Anyone else on the panel? – Yes, I’m gonna resist the urge to debate French political leaders, maybe we can do that offline. I’d just like to respond, I really appreciate your passion, and I actually agree with
your point about soft bigotry needing to be opposed as much as radicals. The one thing I would say, and this is just part of my reaction, not a direct reaction, is that we also have to be careful that we don’t label the other so entirely. What I mean by that, is that, I had maybe my most
memorable discussion in the 10 years that I’ve been
at the Kennedy School, in my classroom the morning
after the election in November. One of my students stood up and explained why he voted for Trump. This was actually quite
a brave thing to do in that exact moment in time, and I thought he made points
that were really important, and I think not acknowledged enough. The minute he said he voted for Trump, I’m sure there were
people in that classroom who just decided, they attributed all
kinds of things to him. He made a point, he said, “Look, I abhor
his treatment of women,” “I abhor his positions on immigrants,” “but I voted for him for this reason.” It was an economic reason. I’m not saying that everyone
who is a Trump supporter needs to be looked at sympathetically, but I’m also saying that for us to say, anyone who’s in that category, if they raise an economic issue, we shouldn’t say, they’re
just disguising that for racism and bigotry and other things. But there may be legitimate
reasons why people did vote for Trump, and we need to just keep in mind that there’s a spectrum
of people out there, and that we need to call
injustices as we see them. But to come at the issue, assuming that everybody who has supported President Trump or the Republican Party ascribes to a whole set of values, which most people in
this room would reject, I think, doesn’t do us a service. – On that note. On that note. (audience applauds) I have three quick things. First, September 11, Monday, eight p.m., I think there’s a forum, and then at eight p.m., we’re
gonna have a pizza party with all of you, with students to continue this discussion of democracies in peril, and what students of the Kennedy School can do about it. Did I get that right, I think? – Yeah, but it’s not just
continue the discussion. We’d really like to
have this year be a year of intense discussion, and
we don’t know how to create intense discussion among the students. But you guys do. Put on your entrepreneurial caps, and come to this pizza party with ideas for what we should do in the future. The dean will fund various things, if you come up with some good ideas. Come up with some ideas about how we can make this a really galvanizing year for everybody here. – I think the Fainsod Room, on the third floor, is
where that’s gonna be. Next, today is the 40th
anniversary of the launch of the Voyager One space probe. It has left our solar system. The first manmade object
to leave our solar system, and if you need a moment to have hope about where humanity is going, the scientists who launched that, put a 90 minute record, for
any aliens that might find it, where they tried to capture
the beauty of humanity. Go find that playlist
online and listen to it. It is really quite exceptional. Finally, I wanna thank our panelists! Round of applause. (audience applauds) (all talking at once)

Comments (2)

  1. Liberalism has lowered all humanity down to the level that even INCEST isn't off limits to them.
    It brings a whole new meaning to Family Day at a liberals home.
    When does it stop when you lefties legalize sex with the animals?

  2. No. It’s just democracy. You lost accept it

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