[ONLINE] - Book Talk: The Four Threats to American Democracy


In 2020, it can seem like American democracy is facing completely new threats, particularly around the politicization of COVID-19 and the changing logistics for November’s election.

According to political scientists Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman, the United States has experienced repeated crises of democracy throughout its history. Their new book, Four Threats, focuses on five specific moments—the 1790s, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, the Depression, and Watergate. During each of these periods, some combination of political polarization, racism and nativism, economic inequality, and excessive executive power threatened our political system.

But Mettler and Lieberman argue that American democracy today does actually face a unique challenge, beyond the pandemic: these same four conditions, all occurring at the same time.

Join the Political Reform program on Wednesday, September 23 from 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET to discuss this history, including what lessons we should apply to our current democratic challenges. The conversation will include both authors, Megan Ming Francis, and Didi Kuo, and will be moderated by Lee Drutman.


Suzanne Mettler
, @SuzanneMettler1
John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions, Cornell University

Robert C. Lieberman, @r_lieberman
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University

Megan Ming Francis, @meganfrancis
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Washington

Didi Kuo, @didikuo1
Associate Director for Research and Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Stanford University

Lee Drutman, @leedrutman (moderator)
Senior Fellow, Political Reform program, New America

You can purchase a copy of Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy from Solid States Books through this link.