How Much Should We Worry?

In this issue of the Journal of Democracy, Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk write that the citizens of many countries are becoming dissatisfied with democracy and increasingly open to nondemocratic alternatives. Although I agree with Foa and Mounk’s central claim that public faith in democracy has eroded during the past two decades while support for nondemocratic alternatives has risen, their data suggest that this phenomenon is, in large part, a specifically American period effect. The United States is distinctive because in recent years U.S. democracy has become appallingly dysfunctional. In fact, evidence from some key indicators suggests that the mass basis of support for democracy is growing stronger.