The Past Decade and the Future of Governance and Democracy: Populist Challenges to Liberal Democracy
Not everything in this “transcendent decade” is taking us toward a New Enlightenment. Governance and democracy face particular challenges from the election of populist leaders. The voices of dissent may speak in different languages, but they convey the same sets of messages, draw from the same range of sources, and articulate their outrage in similar ways, using rhetorical strategies that reject experts, excoriate the media, and demonize conventional policies, politicians, and parties. These dissenting voices, long isolated on the margins, now constitute an existential threat to the long-standing consensus on how to conduct politics and manage the economy in liberal democracies. They challenge the institutional commitments of political liberalism to tolerant, balanced governance and the ideational preferences of economic neoliberalism for open borders and free trade.