Commentary

Our Imperiled Democracy

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Ambitious national political leaders invariably face a problem: how to get things done in the face of competing interests and institutional rules. Democratic leaders generally learn how to accommodate those interests, respect the rules, and understand that accountability is the essence of democracy. They work within the system because for all its flaws, the system works. Autocrats regard competing interests and rules of operation with disdain. Impatient to achieve their ends, they bully opponents, limit accountability and transparency, and seek to become the sole source of authority. Donald Trump seems to be leaning toward the latter approach.

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