The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy hosted “Democratic Erosion and How to Prevent It,” on April 28. Vanderbilt political scientist Josh Clinton and Professor Susan Stokes of the University of Chicago explored the tactics and conditions to which democracies are most vulnerable to succumb during a conversation moderated by Noam Lupu, political scientist and associate director of the Vanderbilt Latin American Public Opinion Project.
The two panelists and moderator are leading scholars in political science who bring deep expertise and extensive research in various aspects of public opinion, campaigns, elections and democratic institutions. They focused on the primary risks to American democracy today and looked at ways that the nation has overcome similar hurdles in the past. They also discussed the ways in which autocratic leaders have manipulated the views of their constituents. They placed the wide-ranging discussion in a global context to provide a framework for both citizens and lawmakers to sustain and strengthen the viability of democracies everywhere.
Josh Clinton, Abby and Jon Winkelried Professor and professor of political science, is the co-director of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He uses statistical methods and data to better understand political processes and consequences. He is interested in the uses and abuses of statistical methods for understanding political phenomena related to political institutions, campaigns and elections, and public opinion in the United States. Clinton serves as editor-in-chief of the Quarterly Journal of Political Science. He earned his doctorate in political science from Stanford University. Clinton will bring today’s American political landscape to the forefront of this analysis, with a special interest in providing solutions to the partisan polarization that is impacting how effectively our system of government can function.
Susan Stokes, Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor, is the director of the Chicago Center on Democracy at the University of Chicago. She teaches courses on political development, political parties and democracy, comparative political behavior, and distributive politics at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include democratic theory and how democracy functions in developing societies, distributive politics, and comparative political behavior. Stokes leads Bright Line Watch, which monitors democratic practices, their resilience and potential threats. She earned her doctorate in political science from Stanford University.
Noam Lupu, associate professor of political science and associate director of the Latin American Public Opinion Project, studies comparative political behavior, partisanship and political parties, class and inequality, representation and legacies of violence. He is the author of Party Brands in Crisis (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which received the Gabriel A. Almond Award and the Juan Linz Award. Lupu is also co-editor of Campaigns and Voters in Developing Democracies (University of Michigan Press, 2019). His research has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, and World Politics, among other outlets. He earned his doctorate in politics from Princeton University.