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Anti-democratic thought is enjoying a resurgence with new claims of citizen incompetence, ignorance, and irrationality. While these claims have a long pedigree, they have become more widely held in a democratic age. They point to important insights concerning the limits of popular rule, although they are often based on misunderstandings or simple errors. Those that are valid are in any case already reflected in the institutions of democratic countries, especially those of the United States, where the claims are mostly made. The overstatement of these claims reminds us that democracy is not just possible, but also necessary.
While the belief in democracy has spread around the world, it has begun to crumble in some of the West’s finest academic institutions.