By Javier Peña, Democracy & Governance M.A. Program alumnus

This post is the first in our Summer Reading Group series discussing recent books on the current state of American democracy.  


Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me. Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Harper, 2016.


One of the threats our republic faces today is the growing distance between so many of us. For a democratic republic to work, its citizens, with their elected representatives, must be able to share their beliefs and preferences, listen to one another, and then get on with the hard and necessary work of governing to advance the national interest. Yet it is becoming increasingly difficult, in no small part because we make it difficult, to truly listen to those on the other side.

By Evan Chiacchiaro, Master’s Candidate of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University

Political science suggests that the American political system may be approaching a crisis point. It’s time to pay attention.

It has been over 150 years since we as Americans have had to confront a true internal existential threat to the stability of American democracy. Since then, presidents have been impeached, they’ve been assassinated, they’ve died of natural causes while in office, and they’ve shattered existing term limit norms. In each case, the rules and institutions of the political system continued to function, and every four years an election was held and an executive elected. Recent trends and events, however, make it crystal clear that American democratic stability is under threat from three distinct but interrelated angles. To save it, Americans who care about our democracy must mount a full-throated defense.

By Jennifer Raymond Dresden, Associate Director of the Democracy & Governance Program

While classes are out for the summer and many of our students are excelling in internships around the world and contributing to research projects a bit closer to home, we here at the Democracy & Governance Program are still firing on all cylinders. To keep important conversations going over the summer and to keep everyone thinking about the fundamental issues of democracy, we are introducing our first-ever Democracy & Governance Summer Reading Group.

By Kate Kizer, second year student of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University and director of policy and advocacy at the Yemen Peace Project

The Trump administration’s Yemen policy during his first 100 days has worsened an already calamitous status quo. Given the precedents set by his predecessors, in which U.S. involvement was dominated by counterterrorism interests and largely uncritical support for an ally committing possible war crimes with U.S. sold weapons, Trump has hardly been primed to achieve an ideal solution.

By Manuel J. Ayulo, second year student of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University

Citing the philosopher W.B. Gallie, Collier and Levitsky remained us that democracy is “the appraisive political concept par excellence”.[1] They are right. In Latin America, democracy continues to be a contested concept. Although the vast majority of the countries are not considered authoritarian, that doesn’t imply that they share or value a homogenous concept of democracy.

By Dr. Daniel Brumberg, Director of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University 

(continues from part 2…)

What then is to be done? What can we, students and faculty in this country’s only full Masters program in Democracy and Governance Studies, do in the face of these challenges, and the potentially massive political change happening on our own doorstep? I honestly am not sure, but I would offer, at least to get the discussion started, a few ideas.

By Dr. Daniel Brumberg, Director of the Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University 

(continues from part 1…)

On the question of understanding, I would suggest that the current political crisis is a consequence of a perfect storm of several factors and events, many of which you are familiar with. They include but are not limited to the following three factors:

(Our first post from Dr. Daniel Brumberg can be found below this welcome.)

Welcome to Democracy & Society Online, the blog counterpart to the annual academic publication run through Georgetown’s Democracy and Governance program. The print publication of Democracy & Society was founded in 2004 as a student-led journal that covers world affairs and concepts in the field of democracy and governance.  This blog is designed to publish contributions from a variety of sources, bridging the gap between academia and practice by presenting concepts in a more forthright manner.