Author: Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Brief Info: American political scientist and Professor of Government at Harvard University

Years Lived: 1968-;

Quotations


Crosscutting Alliances

topics:

Where a society's political divisions are crosscutting, we line up on different sides of issues with different people at different times. We may disagree with our neighbors on abortion but agree with them on health care; we may dislike another neighbor's views on immigration but agree with them on the need to raise the minimum wage. Such alliances help us build and sustain norms of mutual toleration. When we agree with our political rivals at least some of the time, we are less likely to view them as mortal enemies.

From the book How Democracies Die

— 2018


Unwritten Democratic Norms

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Democracies work best – and survive longer – where constitutions are reinforced by unwritten democratic norms. Two basic norms have preserved America's checks and balances in ways we have come to take for granted: mutual toleration, or the understanding that competing parties accept one another as legitimate rivals, and forbearance, or the idea that politicians should exercise restraint in deploying their institutional prerogatives. These two norms undergirded American democracy for most of the twentieth century. Leaders of the two major parties accepted one another as legitimate and resisted the temptation to use their temporary control of institutions to maximum partisan advantage. Norms of toleration and restraint served as the soft guardrails of American democracy, helping it avoid the kind of partisan fight to the death that has destroyed democracies elsewhere in the world, including Europe in the 1930s and South America in the 1960s and 1970s.

From the book How Democracies Die

— 2018

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