Background Briefing: September 19, 2023

How the US Constitution’s Protection Against a Tyranny of the Majority Has Enabled a Tyranny of the Minority

We begin with how the U.S. Constitution which was designed in part to protect against a tyranny of the majority, has generated the opposite problem by enabling a tyranny of the minority with the U.S. today more vulnerable to minority rule or even anti-democratic rule than any other established democracy. Joining us are two scholars with the most insight into the health of democracy at home and abroad, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, professors of government at Harvard University and the authors of the New York Times bestseller How Democracies Die, which won the Goldsmith Book Prize and was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Time, and Foreign Affairs. Steven Levitsky’s research focuses on Latin America and the developing world and he is the author of Competitive Authoritarianism and Daniel Ziblatt studies Europe from the nineteenth century to the present and is the author of Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy. We discuss their latest book, just out, Tyranny of the Minority: Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point.


Presidents Biden and Zelensky at the UN today and the Reactions of World Leaders

Then we look into today’s activity at the UN with a strong speech by President Biden condemning Russia and a powerful speech by Ukraine’s President Zelensky warning of Russian “mass destruction.” Joining us is Dawn Clancy, a New York City based reporter and UN correspondent for Pass Blue who focuses on women’s issues, international conflict and diplomacy. She was at the UN today and we discuss the world leaders’ reaction to the speeches and other activities behind the scene as Zelensky warns against a backroom attempt at a “peace” deal with Putin, who, he pointed out, also made a deal with Prigozhin, and look how that ended up.