Is Democracy Possible?

Issue Date January 2009
Volume 20
Issue 1
Page Numbers 113-127
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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.

About the Author

Bruce Gilley is professor of political science at Portland State University. His works include The Right to Rule: How States Win and Lose Legitimacy (2009) and The Nature of Asian Politics (2014).

View all work by Bruce Gilley