Inequality And The Crisis of American Democracy


The collapse of the U.S. financial system in 2008 plunged the economy into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression . Now the 2016 election has brought to the forefront the deeper crisis afflicting American politics: a crisis of democracy.

Powerful corporations like too-big-to-fail financial firms surpass democratic attempts at holding them accountable. Our very institutions of governance have become dysfunctional or overly-reliant on top-down technocratic expertise, also seeming to escape the need for democratic accountability, responsiveness, and control. As a result, Americans feel disempowered and anxious, unable to hold accountable private or public power.

In Democracy Against Domination, K. Sabeel Rahman explains how inequality, political failure, and populist movements have a historical precedent, in the politics and policies of the pre-New Deal Progressive Era. His book explores the larger stakes of today’s debates over inequality and political failure, and offers solutions for how democracy and economic inclusion can be achieved in today's “New Gilded Age”.

Please join the Political Reform program for a conversation with author K. Sabeel Rahman, as well as Brishen Rogers, Shayna Strom, and Connie M. Razza on how we need a more thorough structural approach to economic change that addresses the root problem of private power and market inequities. Together, they will talk about ways in which we can make our political institutions more responsive, accountable, and effective as they discuss what the future of American politics looks like in an era of populisms of the right and left.


K. Sabeel Rahman
Author, Democracy Against Domination
Assistant Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
Fellow, New America and Roosevelt Institute

Brishen Rogers
Associate Professor of Law, Temple University

Shayna Strom
Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation

Connie M. Razza
Director of Strategic Research, The Center for Popular Democracy


Mark Schmitt
Director of Studies and Director of Political Reform Program