Forthcoming in NOMOS LXII: Democratic Failure, Mellissa Ann Schwartzberg, ed. (New York: NYU Press).
24 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 27, 2019
Many observers worry that democracies at home and abroad are failing. In “Democratic Failure” (this volume), Professor Huq argues that these failures have deeper and more persistent sources. Democracy and failure are born twins and travel through political history together, he argues; that failure is endemic to democracy — not a risk, but a certainty. In this essay, I seek to understand what this thesis could mean, exploring what I call various modalities of failure to which we may think democracy is vulnerable. I argue (a) that while there are a number of ways in which democracies fall short of our aspirations, these are either are not properly regarded as failures, or are not endemic to democracy; (b) that some disappointments are properly regarded as failures and endemic, but that efforts are possible to safeguard against them or repair damage caused by such failures; (c) that failings of democracy that should most concern us are ultimately our failures to do our part in maintaining the health of our democracy. It problem is not democracy that is failing, but our failing democracy.
Keywords: accountability, democracy, constitutional norms, fairness
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