Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency
Larry Diamond has made it his life's work both to study democracy and to advise dissidents fighting autocracy around the world. But when Donald Trump won the presidency by openly rejecting basic democratic norms, this lifelong scholar of democracy's struggles abroad felt a horrible sense of danger at home.
Diamond's core argument is stark: The defense and spread of democracy has relied for decades on U.S. global leadership, including its alliances with advanced democracies in Europe and Asia. If America does not reclaim its traditional place as the keystone of democracy, today's authoritarian trend will accelerate into a "third reverse wave" of democratic breakdowns. That wave could become a tsunami. And that could let Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and their admirers turn the 21st century into a dark time of surging authoritarianism.
But it's an ill wind that brings no good with it. Free governments can defend their values; free citizens can exercise their rights. Diamond explains how we can make the Internet safe for liberal democracy, how we can exploit the soft, kleptocratic underbelly of dictatorships, and how we can revive America's degraded democracy. We are at a hinge in history, between a new era of tyranny or a new age of democratic renewal, and freedom's last line of defense is still "We the people."
Larry Diamond is a professor of political science and sociology at Stanford University. He is also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. In 2004, Prof. Diamond served in Baghdad as a senior adviser on governance to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. His books include The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World. He is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and has edited or co-edited some 36 books on democracy.