A crisis of legitimacy has afflicted US politics for well over a decade. Belief in democracy and public trust in our political institutions has been in a long term decline. What lies behind the resulting crisis? Jerry Harris and Cliff DuRand will look at the big picture as they examine the forces that have shaped the tumultuous politics of our times. Jerry Harris is National Secretary of the Global Studies Association and author of Global Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy. Cliff DuRand, a founder of the Center for Global Justice, recently published “Neoliberal Globalization and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy.”
They look beyond the tumultuous politics of recent months, to the larger economic forces that have produced the loss of legitimacy of liberal democracy. Right wing authoritarianism, nationalism, white supremacy, Donald Trump are all consequences. Globalization, neoliberalism and austerity have upended the class compromise that gave stability to political life in the US as well as other capitalist societies. The populace gave their assent to the rule of political elites as long as their corporate friendly policies also benefited them. But with neoliberal globalization that link was frayed. For several decades working people found their living standards no longer rising, but even declining as a result of policies followed by Democratic and Republican elites alike. With that, disillusionment set in and they became easy prey to demagogues who promised to restore the better life of days gone by. The present popular upsurge against reactionary nationalism we see in the 2020 election is a last ditch effort to save liberal democracy. Is it too late? Only our future struggles will tell.