“I’m really happy to be here at Stetson [because] I’m a die-hard Mets fan,” Dr. Steven Levitsky, Harvard University professor and co-author of “How Democracies Die” said as soon as he got up to the microphone on Feb. 19. “So I was really thrilled to come to the university that produced Jacob Anthony deGrom.”
Tuesday night, after an invitation from the campus chapter of College Democrats, Dr. Levitsky came to Stetson to speak not of baseball, but of his book, which warns against, as the title implies, the encroachment of death of democracy. “How Democracies Die” won the Goldsmith Book Prize, was shortlisted for the 2019 Lionel Gelber Prize, and made numerous publications’ lists of one of the most notable books of 2018.
As Dr. Levitsky spoke, the room was full and the spectators were silent. He spoke for close to an hour about whether or not our institutional framework is strong enough to maintain the current disintegration of our democracy, how worried we should be of political polarization, and if there was a need to fret about increasing income inequality, among other topics. However, it seemed that the biggest question that was left at the end was “are we going to be okay?” Spoiler alert: we are. Dr. Levitsky believes that with “mutual toleration” and “institutional forbearance”, our nation will smoothly come back out the other side.
“To get to a truly multiracial democracy, we’re going to go through a period of intense and polarizing reaction,” Dr. Levitsky said. “That’s where we are right now. During that period, during that birth point, during that period of intensive, polarizing reaction, we cannot afford to be reckless with our institutions. We have way too much to lose.”