The Atlantic

If America's Democracy Fails, Can Other Ones Survive?

Yascha Mounk says the rise of populism isn’t over yet.
Source: Susana Vera

Almost everyone who writes about challenges to democracy sooner or later encounters the important work of Yascha Mounk. The list of his accomplishments is a long one: The German-born scholar lectures on political theory at Harvard, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Transatlantic Academy of the German Marshall Fund, and is a nonresident fellow at New America's Political Reform Program. He writes a weekly column for Slate, where he also hosts The Good Fight podcast.

His latest book, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It, will be published on March 5. An excerpt adapted from the book ran in The Atlantic’s March issue. I spoke with Mounk earlier this month about his research, the meaning of populism, and the question of how democratic societies cope with immigration, among other things. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.


David Frum: Let’s begin with the research that has made you famous, your cross-country survey of declining faith in democracy among younger people in the advanced countries. Could you describe it?

Yascha Mounk: Political scientists describe wealthy, stable countries as “consolidated democracies.”

Watching the rise of populist parties across Europe, I was a little skeptical of this idea. So with a colleague, Roberto Stefan Foa, I

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