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Can it happen here? : authoritarianism in America

Format: Print Book 2018
Availability: Available at 6 Libraries 6 of 11 copies
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Summary

"What makes Trump immune is that he is not a president within the context of a healthy Republican government. He is a cult leader of a movement that has taken over a political party - and he specifically campaigned on a platform of one-man rule. This fact permeates "Can It Happen Here? . . . which concludes, if you read between the lines, that "it" already has." - New York Times Book Review

"Several of the contributors...agree that American politics is susceptible to creeping authoritarianism and provide the intellectual underpinning." - Washington Post

With the election of Donald J. Trump, many people on both the left and right feared that America's 240-year-old grand experiment in democracy was coming to an end, and that Sinclair Lewis' satirical novel, It Can't Happen Here, written during the dark days of the 1930s, could finally be coming true. Is the democratic freedom that the United States symbolizes really secure? Can authoritarianism happen in America?

Acclaimed legal scholar, Harvard Professor, and New York Times bestselling author Cass R. Sunstein queried a number of the nation's leading thinkers. In this thought-provoking collection of essays, these distinguished thinkers and theorists explore the lessons of history, how democracies crumble, how propaganda works, and the role of the media, courts, elections, and "fake news" in the modern political landscape--and what the future of the United States may hold.

Contributors include:

Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School Eric Posner, law professor at the University of Chicago Law School Tyler Cowen, economics professor at George Mason University Timur Kuran, economics and political science professor at Duke University Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard Law School Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business Jack Goldsmith, Professor at Harvard Law School, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and co-founder of Lawfare Stephen Holmes, Professor of Law at New York University Jon Elster, Professor of the Social Sciences at Columbia University Thomas Ginsburg, Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University Duncan Watts, sociologist and principal researcher at Microsoft Research Geoffrey R. Stone, University of Chicago Law school professor and noted First Amendment scholar
Contents
The dictator's handbook, US edition / by Eric A. Posner
Constitutional rot / by Jack M. Balkin
Could fascism come to America? / by Tyler Cowen
Lessons from the American founding / by Cass R. Sunstein
Beyond elections: foreign interference with American democracy / by Samantha Power
Paradoxes of the Deep State / by Jack Goldsmith
How we lost constitutional democracy / by Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq
On "It can't happen here" / by Noah Feldman
Authoritarianism is not a momentary madness, but an eternal dynamic within liberal democracies / by Karen Stenner and Jonathan Haidt
States of emergency / by Bruce Ackerman
Another road to serfdom: cascading intolerance / by Timur Kuran
The resistible rise of Louis Bonaparte / by Jon Elster
Could mass detentions without process happen here? / by Martha Minow
The commonsense presidency / by Duncan J. Watts
Law and the slow-motion emergency / by David A. Strauss
How democracies perish / by Stephen Holmes
"It can't happen here": the lessons of history / by Geoffrey R. Stone.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "In this manifold collection of 17 essays edited by Sunstein (The World According to Star Wars, 2016), a politically diverse group of legal, political, and social-science scholars addresses the title question: Are we headed towards a period of authoritarianism in America? The office of the presidency today is much more powerful than originally envisioned by our Founding Fathers, whose aim was to break from a remote authority figure. President Trump, it is said, exhibits characteristics in common with authoritarian leaders past and present. Through these carefully sourced essays, readers will gain a framework in which to evaluate the hyperbolic rhetoric disseminated on so many platforms. And the topics covered here continue to ripple in the daily news out of Washington. While the contributors express a healthy variety of opinions about the direction the country is heading, they do agree that we must be vigilant against authoritarian figures exploiting our open society to aggregate power. History has shown that it is possible to irrevocably damage a democracy.--Kaplan, Dan Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Playing off the title of Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel about the rise of an authoritarian regime in the U.S., It Can't Happen Here, Sunstein (#Republic) gathers together 17 provocative, topical essays, prompted by fears that the Trump presidency could become a dictatorship. His contributors, a diverse group of social scientists, political scientists, and legal experts, ponder topics that include "constitutional rot," the use and misuse of government-declared states of emergency, and lessons from the country's founding. University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner contends that dictators succeed when they take on and defeat several institutions, including the press, courts, and party system; Trump, Posner argues, depends on such institutions, and for now at least is not enacting the dictator's handbook. University of Chicago law professors Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq cautiously remind readers that the U.S. Constitution excels at preventing coups or rapid deployment of emergency powers, but not at preventing autocrats from slowly dismantling democracy. Duke University political scientist Timur Kuran warns that in an era of cascading intolerance it is no easy task to find societal common ground. Like almost any essay collection, this one is uneven, but the best of the entries rouse the reader to think carefully and deeply about the prospects for American authoritarianism. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Trump, Donald, -- 1946- -- Influence.
Democracy -- United States.
Authoritarianism -- United States.
United States -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
Publisher New York, NY :2018
Edition First edition.
Contributors Sunstein, Cass R., editor.
Language English
Description xi, 481 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9780062696199
006269619X
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