Of course there have been times when American democracy seemed in serious trouble. We all know when that was the case. But Professor Müller seems far too sanguine for my taste about our current woes and desperate conclusions. Perhaps he is only reacting against what he feels is the excessive worry that intellectuals and some politicians now express in the aftermath of Trump’s presidency and his refusal to abide by normative standards of civility and propriety. Certainly the GOP in the past, particularly since the Russian Revolutions of the early 20th century, have expressed attacks on all dissent about our system which could be regarded as incendiary. One thinks of the persecution of radicals as Bolsheviks, the reaction to the moderate attempt of Franklin Roosevelt to save this country from Fascism as well as from Communism. One remembers the McCarthy assault on civil liberties, the John Birch Society, and much that led finally but unexpectedly to Trumpism. But many now feel we have gone beyond mere political partisanship beloved of the Right to enter into something closer to Fascism. I think we have and dissent from Müller’s Pollyannish conclusions, if I without having read his full analysis am right.
In Response to: Jan-Werner Müller, Professor of Politics, Defines Our Democracy