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Engaging Ideas

Democracy on the Defensive

Trends in the U.S. and worldwide

PART I of this Engaging Idea explores the pillars of democracy, the global decline in democratic values, the rise of populism and the eroding trust in the media and other institutions.
PART II explores the growth of illiberal democracies around the world and the phenomenon of both populism and nationalism in the U.S. and abroad.


Photo of Floyd Ciruli

Floyd Ciruli is the inaugural director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research. Mr. Ciruli teaches graduate-level courses in survey analysis and methodology to promote the center's focus.

Mr. Ciruli, a pollster and political analyst, is principal at Ciruli Associates, a consulting and public opinion research firm. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University and a Bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA. Currently, he is a board member of the Social Science Foundation of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Georgetown Law Alumni Board. He is past-president of the Pacific Chapter of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).


 More on the Subject

  1. Freedom in the World, Freedom House, 2017
  2. Freedom of the Press, Freedom House, 2017
  3. How Democracies Die, a book written by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
  4. Is Democracy Dying?, a series of articles published by The Atlantic

Questions for personal reflection or group discussion

  1. Are K-12 and college students being sufficiently trained in the key characteristics and value of democracy?
  2. What are improvements that could encourage compromise and increase the efficacy of government; e.g., end gerrymandering, open party primaries, term limits, more media fact checking?
  3. Should Americans continue to defend and/or promote democracy, due process and human rights worldwide?
  4. What programs or politics could increase participation in election voting; e.g., weekend voting, all mail or online balloting?
  5. How could trust in government be increased; e.g., more transparency, more ways for citizens to communicate with officials and receive feedback?

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