NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A call to reform our antiquated political institutions before it’s too late—from the authors of How Democracies Die
“[Levitsky and Ziblatt] write with terrifying clarity about how the forces of the right have co-opted the enshrined rules to exert their tyranny.”—The Washington Post ONE OF THE CALIFORNIA REVIEW OF BOOKS’ TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • A NEWSWEEK BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
America is undergoing a massive experiment: It is moving, in fits and starts, toward a multiracial democracy, something few societies have ever done. But the prospect of change has sparked an authoritarian backlash that threatens the very foundations of our political system. Why is democracy under assault here, and not in other wealthy, diversifying nations? And what can we do to save it?
With the clarity and brilliance that made their first book, How Democracies Die, a global bestseller, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt offer a coherent framework for understanding these volatile times. They draw on a wealth of examples—from 1930s France to present-day Thailand—to explain why and how political parties turn against democracy. They then show how our Constitution makes us uniquely vulnerable to attacks from within: It is a pernicious enabler of minority rule, allowing partisan minorities to consistently thwart and even rule over popular majorities. Most modern democracies—from Germany and Sweden to Argentina and New Zealand—have eliminated outdated institutions like elite upper chambers, indirect elections, and lifetime tenure for judges. The United States lags dangerously behind.
In this revelatory book, Levitsky and Ziblatt issue an urgent call to reform our politics. It’s a daunting task, but we have remade our country before—most notably, after the Civil War and during the Progressive Era. And now we are at a crossroads: America will either become a multiracial democracy or cease to be a democracy at all.
About the Author
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt are professors of government at Harvard University and the authors of the New York Times bestseller How Democracies Die, which won the Goldsmith Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber Prize, and was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Time, and Foreign Affairs.
“A minority of voters can now inflict a legislative wallop of racism, sexism, nativism, homophobia, transphobia, and economic misery on the rest of us—and never have to pay for it at the polls. This is the ‘tyranny of the minority’ that Levitsky and Ziblatt rightly fear. No lawless strongman or populist autocracy, it’s a product of the very Constitution that we have been taught to admire.”—The New Yorker
“Why has American democracy come so close to a breaking point while other Western democracies appear more stable? In this sobering study, Levitsky and Ziblatt blame the United States’ eighteenth-century constitutional order for its modern democratic woes.”—Foreign Affairs
“[Daniel] Ziblatt and [Steven] Levitsky are two of America’s very best comparative political scientists, with expertise that makes them uniquely well-equipped for the subject they’re examining. . . . Tyranny of the Minority is one of the best guides out there to the crisis of American democracy.”—Vox
“Excellent . . . Levitsky and Ziblatt distinguish themselves by the clarity and scope of their account. For a one-stop-shop foray into the problem of America’s outlier status among democratic systems and the challenges of reform, Tyranny of the Minority cannot be beat.”—The New Republic
“In their exceptionally perceptive and wide-ranging new book, Tyranny of the Minority, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt document the rapid unravelling of democracy in nations from Peru to Thailand, Third Republic France to Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.”—The Times Literary Supplement
“In their must-read book, Tyranny of the Minority, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt cogently explain that Republicans, unable to appeal to a broader share of the electorate beyond diminishing numbers of White, rural Christians, have found ways to exploit, abuse and, indeed, break majority governance.”—Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post
“Crisply argued.”—The American Prospect “Concise, readable, and convincing.”—Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy
“Levitsky and Ziblatt’s research shows with bleak clarity that the only thing standing between America and autocracy is the moral conscience and democratic ideals of the Republican partners of this government.”—New York magazine
“Old democracies tend to last, and so do rich democracies, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt point out in this searing, unsettling, and essential new book, but American democracy, which is both old and rich, is dying.”—Jill Lepore, author of These Truths
“To their credit, they offer no easy solutions, but Levitsky and Ziblatt challenge us to use our voices and our votes to push back against these inherently antidemocratic features of our endangered republic.”—Laurence H. Tribe, University Professor of Constitutional Law Emeritus, Harvard “This eye-opening study, filled with analysis of analogous historical moments from around the world, is an essential primer in the struggle for democracy this century.”—Rep. Jamie Raskin, author of Unthinkable