American Democracy

Be it resolved, American democracy is in its worst crisis in a generation and Donald J. Trump is to blame…

October 12, 2017

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It is the public debate of the moment: is Donald Trump precipitating a crisis of American democracy? For some the answer is an emphatic “yes”. Trump’s disregard for the institutions and political norms of U.S. democracy is imperiling the Republic. The sooner his presidency collapses the sooner the healing can begin and the ship of state righted. For others Trump is not the villain in this drama. Rather, his young presidency is the conduit, not the cause, of Americans’ deep-seated anger towards a privileged and self-dealing Washington elite. Trump’s disruption of politics as usual is what America needs to start the process of restoring democracy by the people, for the people. 

 

The Autumn 2017 Munk Debate will move the motion: be it resolved, American democracy is in its worst crisis in a generation and Donald J. Trump is to blame...

The Results

Pre-Debate

67%

Pro

33%

Con

Post-Debate

64%

Pro

36%

Con

Con wins with 3% vote gain.

The Debaters

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan

Pro

"In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event."

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan

Pro

"In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event."

Andrew Sullivan is an Oxford graduate who received his PhD from Harvard University. He has written extensively on a wide range of topics, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, civil liberties, the legalization of marijuana, human rights and the future of media. A practicing Catholic, he has challenged the Church's position on gay life in his books and television appearances on shows such as “Real Time” with Bill Maher.

Sullivan is a contributing editor at New York magazine, blogger, author and a popular source of provocative and astute political and social commentary.

From 2000 to 2015, Sullivan chronicled almost every major political and cultural moment on his blog, The Dish. During those 15 years, at Time MagazineThe Atlantic and independently, he helped legitimize the digital medium by publishing an incredible 250 to 300 posts a week.

Sullivan joined New York magazine as contributing editor in 2016, covering politics and culture. Also in 2016, Sullivan announced he was working on two new books: Keeping the Faith, a spiritual memoir about the future and meaning of Christianity in the 21st century, and a 30-year retrospective of essays, reviews and posts, entitled Thinking Out Loud.

Sullivan was The New Republic’s youngest editor-in-chief, was named editor of the year by Adweek and received multiple National Magazine Awards. He also worked for Time MagazineThe New York Times Magazine and served as a senior editor for The Atlantic.

Sullivan was an early activist for gay rights. His books Here Comes the Groom: A (Conservative) Case for Gay Marriage, published in 1989, and 1995’s Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality set the agenda for the gay rights movement for two decades.

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E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne Jr.

Pro

"Our country is now as close to crossing the line from democracy to autocracy as it has been in our lifetimes."

E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne Jr.

Pro

Our country is now as close to crossing the line from democracy to autocracy as it has been in our lifetimes.

E.J. Dionne Jr., from Fall River, Mass., holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a D.Phil. in sociology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Dionne started his career at The New York Times in 1975, covering state, local and national politics, and also serving as a foreign correspondent, reporting from more than two dozen countries, including Paris, Rome and Beirut. He joined The Washington Post in 1990 as a political reporter and, since 1993, has been writing a column for paper that now appears in more than 240 newspapers.

Dionne is currently a William F. Bloomberg Visiting Professor at Harvard University, with a joint appointment at the Harvard Divinity School, the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He is also a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown University.

He is also a regular political analyst for MSNBC, NPR’s All Things Considered and ABC News’ This Week.

Together with Tom Mann and Norm Orenstein, Dionne is a co-author of the book One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet Deported, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press on September 19.

He has written six other books and has edited or co-edited seven. His Why Americans Hate Politics won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award nominee.

Dionne lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife, Mary Boyle. They have three children, James, Julia and Margot.

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Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Con

"Trump’s election is a tremendous opportunity to tear down the walls of big government, liberalism, and elitism and set the path for a bold new direction that is once again guided by the will of the people."

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Con

Trump’s election is a tremendous opportunity to tear down the walls of big government, liberalism, and elitism and set the path for a bold new direction that is once again guided by the will of the people.

Newt Gingrich is a former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, New York Times bestselling author, and Time magazine’s 1995 Man of the Year. Called “the indispensable leader” by The Washington Times, he is the architect of the Contract with America, which led the Republican Party to victory in 1994 by capturing the majority in the U.S. House for the first time in 40 years. Under his leadership, Congress passed welfare reform, the first balanced budget in a generation and the first tax cut in 16 years.

As an author, Gingrich has published 27 books, including 14 fiction and non-fiction New York Times bestsellers. Non-fiction books include his latest, Breakout, in addition to A Nation Like No Other and To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine. He is also the author of a series of historical fiction books, including Gettysburg, 1945, Pearl Harbor and Valley Forge. His latest novel, Duplicity, is a thriller about Washington intrigue and international terrorism.

Gingrich received his bachelor of arts from Georgia’s Emory University and a master’s and doctorate in modern European history from Tulane University in New Orleans. Before his election to Congress in 1978, he taught history and environmental studies at West Georgia College for eight years.

Gingrich served as a member of the Defense Policy Board and was on the Terrorism Task Force for the Council on Foreign Relations. He founded and chaired several policy think tanks, including American Solutions for Winning the Future and the Center for Health Transformation. In 2005, he co-chaired the Task Force on the United Nations, a bi-partisan Congressional effort to reform the U.N.

Gingrich is a former Fox News contributor, a senior advisor at global law firm Dentons and a senior scientist at the U.S. research firm Gallup Inc.

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Kimberley Strassel

Kimberley Strassel

Con

"What we're witnessing here is the return to old-fashioned politics […] This is about a big, fat, beautiful negotiation."

Kimberley Strassel

Kimberley Strassel

Con

What we're witnessing here is the return to old-fashioned politics […] This is about a big, fat, beautiful negotiation.

Kimberley Strassel is an Oregon native who holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy and international affairs from Princeton University. She is a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board and writes editorials, as well as the influential Potomac Watch political column.

Strassel joined Dow Jones & Co. in 1994, working in the news department at The Wall Street Journal in Brussels and then in London. She moved to New York in 1999 and soon joined the paper’s editorial page, working as a features editor and, later, as an editorial writer. She assumed her current position in 2005.

In 2014, Strassel was awarded the Bradley Prize, a $250,000 acknowledgement by the Bradley Foundation of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the conservative movement.

Strassel is the author of the national bestseller The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech, which details, among other things, her assertions about the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s alleged harassment of conservatives. The book was published in June 2016, during the U.S. presidential election race and chronicles recent attacks on conservative non-profit organizations, businesses and donors. The National Review called it “outstanding” and a “monument to investigative journalism.”

Strassel is also a regular contributor to Sunday political TV shows, including Fox News Sunday, CBS’s “Face the Nation,” and NBC's “Meet the Press.”

She lives in Virginia with her three children.

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