Protecting Liberal Democracy During Trump’s Presidency


Donald Trump’s administration is likely to undo many of the legislative achievements of the last years, from health reform to net neutrality. Many think tanks and civil society organizations will be tempted to focus on saving the reforms they helped to pass, but they also need to grapple with the possibility that Trump’s Presidency may pose an even more fundamental threat— that he could undermine liberal democracy itself.

During the campaign, the President-Elect has threatened to jail his opponent and to disregard the election’s result. He has attacked the independence of the judiciary and promised to muzzle the free press. Cynical campaign bluster? Perhaps, but it is just as possible that they presage a concerted attack on basic rights and liberties.

In case this comes to pass, it is crucial for civil society organizations on all sides of the democratic spectrum to carry out two tasks: Set up an early warning system to sound the alarm in case key democratic norms are subverted, and start thinking about what resources they have at their disposal—and what coalitions they need to build—to defend liberal democratic institutions against such attacks. 

Please join Vanessa Williamson, Shadi Hamid, Yascha Mounk, and Mark Schmitt for an exploratory conversation about how we all can play a role in that crucial undertaking.

Drinks and Hors d'oeuvres will be served.


Shadi Hamid 
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution 
Contributing Writer, The Atlantic
Author, Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World


Yascha Mounk 
Fellow, New America and The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Lecturer, Harvard University 
Author, The People vs. Democracy: How The Clash Between Individual Rights and The Popular Will is Destroying Liberal Democracy (forthcoming) 


Vanessa Williamson 
Fellow, The Brookings Institution 
Author, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (with Theda Skocpol)



Mark Schmitt 
Director of Studies and Director of the Political Reform Program, New America