This weekend, the American skies will be ablaze with fireworks celebrating our legacy of freedom and democracy, even as Republican Legislature after Republican Legislature restricts the franchise and National Republicans filibusters the expansive Law for the People. It will be a strange sight.
It is difficult to view your own country objectively. There is too much hypocrisy and myths, too many stories and rituals. So for the past week, I’ve been asking foreign democracy academics how they see the struggles for the American political system. These conversations have been, for the most part, grim.
“I’m sure American democracy is not what Americans think it is,” David Altman, a political scientist from Chile, told me. “There is a cognitive dissonance between what American citizens believe their institutions to be and what they really are.”
“What really worries me is how similar what is happening in the US looks like to a number of countries around the world where democracy has really taken a heavy toll and in many cases has died,” Staffan Lindberg , a Swedish political scientist who heads the Institute for Varieties of Democracy, said. “I mean countries like Hungary under Orban, Turkey in the early days …