TPI Replay: Democratic Crises in U.S. History, With Suzanne Mettler

In this special series of The President’s Inbox on the future of democracy, James M. Lindsay speaks with experts to discuss whether and where democratic governance is faltering around the world. This week, Suzanne Mettler, John L. Senior professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University, places the current crisis of American democracy in historical perspective. This episode is part of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy.

January 4, 2022 — 33:13 min
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Host

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

Episode Guests

Suzanne Mettler

John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions; Cornell University

Show Notes

In this special series of The President’s Inbox on the future of democracy, James M. Lindsay speaks with experts to discuss whether and where democratic governance is faltering around the world. This week, Suzanne Mettler, John L. Senior professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University, places the current crisis of American democracy in historical perspective. This episode is part of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy. (This is a rebroadcast.)

 

Books Mentioned in the Podcast

 

Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman, Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy (2020)

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Transcript

Jim Lindsay:

Hi, podcast listeners. This is Jim Lindsay. This week, we are airing a TPI replay of an incredibly timely and important episode. Last March, I sat down with Suzanne Metler, the John Ellis Sr professor of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University, as part of our special Democracy Tested series, The President's Inbox. Suzanne and I discussed the health of America's democracy and how the current crisis of American democracy fits into historical perspective. Suzanne and I spoke just two months after supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the US capital building, seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election. This week marks the one year anniversary of the January 6th Insurrection, and we thought it would be appropriate to resurface this informative and poignant conversation. We hope you enjoy. Welcome to The President's Inbox, a CFR podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsay, director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This week's topic is American Democracy. Today's episode is part of a special series on The President's Inbox about the future of democracy. Over the next few weeks, I'm sitting down with experts to discuss whether and where democratic governance is faltering around the world. This series on the state of democracy is part of the council's The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy. With me to discuss the health of America's democracy is Suzanne Metler. Suzanne is the John Ellis Sr Professor of American Institutions in the Department of Government at Cornell University. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Suzanne has written widely on American political development. Her most recent book, written with Robert Lieberman, and which came out last year, is Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy. Suzanne, thank you for joining me.

Suzanne Metler:

I'm delighted to be here. Thank you, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

Now, Suzanne, I want to take advantage of your deep knowledge of American political history. Before we go back in time, I'd like to start with the present and get your sense of where American democracy is today. In Four Threats, you write that, let me quote you, "Today we live in a time of intense stress on democracy." How so?

Suzanne Metler:

Well, what we learned in actually learning from scholars who study democratic deterioration in countries around the world, is that there are four major threats to democracy that can put it in peril. And today, in fact, all four of those are raging at high levels in the United States. And this is really the first time in our history that we've had all four once. So, it's very serious. And we had been worried about this, you know, over these last few years. And then frankly, we were seeing some damage to democracy, at least threats to democracy. And then in the year of 2020, things just kept intensifying through the year, with damage to elections. I mean, we did have free and fair elections in 2020, but so many Americans doubt the outcome and think that the outcome was fraudulent. And so, the denial of the election outcome is a huge concern for the future democracy by the Republican party. There was lots of damage along the way to the rule of law, to the legitimacy of the opposition. And so, I'm very concerned. I think that we are in a bad state right now as a country.

Jim Lindsay:

Suzanne, I want to talk about the four threats, but before we do so, I want to offer up an observation that I've heard from a number of people over the last few weeks, in response to what has been called arguments about democratic backsliding or democratic erosion in the United States. And it more or less comes down to something along the following lines. How can you talk about democracy eroding in the United States when we just came through an election in which we set records for turnout? The turnout in 2020 was a level we haven't seen since 1900. Many people say to me, "Isn't that a sign of a very vibrant, healthy democracy?"

Suzanne Metler:

Well, the high voter turnout is terrific and that is a sign of, of democratic health. And there are other signs of democratic health we could point to, for example, at the state and local level, election officials did their job, and election officials in both parties confirmed the results of the elections. They ran a very clean election. They did it under pandemic circumstances. This is extraordinary. This is a lot to cheer about in a democracy. The judiciary played its appoint role. The courts protected the election and they turned away all of these frivolous lawsuits that the Trump campaign was bringing forward, and said that they were unfounded. On January 6th, on that day that I will always think of as one of the worst days of my life, seeing what happened that afternoon in the Capital, that evening, Congress reconvened. That's another sign of democratic health, that Congress came back in to certify the election results. So, all of those things are signs of health. However, there are multiple signs of real danger and concern. So, the fact that president Trump spent so long, ahead of time, trying to convince people that if he lost it would be because the election was fraudulent, and then being unwilling to concede, unwilling to face the fact that he lost after the fact, and convincing so many of his supporters that, in fact, he had won. So that, today, there's still a majority of Republicans who believe that Trump was the rightful winner and that Biden is not a legitimate president. Those are signs of real danger for the future of democracy, because the most fundamental thing about a democracy is that you have an election and someone's going to lose. There's one famous scholar, Adam Jaworski, who calls this the very definition of democracy. It's a system in which political parties lose elections. And we've been very successful as a country because, time and again, in each election, with the exception of 1860, those who lose are willing to say, "Okay, we lost. We're going to work toward the next election and try to win that time."

Jim Lindsay:

That's the peaceful transition of power.

Suzanne Metler:

The peaceful transition of power, exactly. If you lose that, you've really lost democracy.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's talk about the four threats. And again, you titled your book, The Four Threats, and historically, there have been four types of threats to American democracy. Can you walk us through each one, and maybe briefly explain them to us?

Suzanne Metler:

Yes. So, the first to democracy is political polarization. Now, political scientists will be quick to say that having political parties is good for democracy, generally speaking. And it's good for those parties to be different from each other. It gives voters a choice. So, you want some polarization. The problem is when society and politics become sorted out and divided, so that people perceive it as a war of us versus them. So, you stop thinking of your fellow citizens as fellow citizens and as, as political competitors. And instead you think of them as the enemy. That's fundamentally problematic. And when you have a political party who puts winning above of everything else, at all costs above democracy, then democracy is truly endangered. So, that's the first threat. The second threat is what we call conflict over, who belongs. So in a society, things tend to work well if everyone agrees on what are the boundaries of the political community of who's in and who's not. But when you have a formative rift, particularly it goes back to the beginning of the country, it can wreak havoc again and again. And in the United States, we've had lots of conflict, particularly over the status of African Americans over time, as well as over immigrants. And these things have waxed and waned throughout American history. And the greatest conflict has happened when, as in the Civil War period, you had one side, particularly if it becomes aligned with partisanship. So, you have one party that's working for greater inclusivity, and that is their view of democracy, is greater inclusivity, and the other side wants to protect what they'll call their heritage, their way of life. And we're seeing that kind of conflict now, the way that parties have sorted themselves out and evolved in recent decades, were involved in that kind of a conflict. The third threat to democracy is high and rising economic inequality. And when I first learned about this, I assumed it meant that it's a problem because the masses might rise up and have revolution. But it's actually the opposite of that. Democracy becomes endangered when the most affluent people, say the top 1% or even a fraction of them, become concerned that everyone else is going to gain power in this democratic system, and that they will have to face higher taxes and regulations and other things they don't like. And so, they try to lock down their advantages, and they're willing to do so at all costs. If they're willing to do so at all costs, nevermind democracy, that's a real threat. And then the fourth and final threat is executive aggrandizement. When you have the concentration of power in the nation's top leader. And in the case of the United States, that's the presidency. Now, these other three threats that I've mentioned have waxed and waned over time in the United States, each according to their own pattern. Executive aggrandizement has really been growing ever since the 1930s, The New Deal, and both parties have participated in that. Presidents of either party have grown the powers of the executive branch and left them behind for the next inhabitant of the White House. And those provide tools that, generally speaking, are there to serve the American people and to respond to moments of crisis and to the great needs of society. But they're also there, and can be used by those who want to abuse power for their own gain, the gain of their political party, et cetera. This happened in Watergate, for example, and that was happening during the Trump administration.

Jim Lindsay:

So, a theme in Four Threats is that Americans tend to idealize their democratic past. We look back and we see this time where everything worked really well. I think your book, in many ways, is a cold shower to that idea. You talk about a number of periods, the 1790s, the 1850s, 1890s, 1930s, 1970s, as times where American democracy clearly came under stress. I'd actually could begin by talking about the 1790s. And if you could sketch the picture for us of what happened in the 1790, where democracy's under threat. I think for most people, they think 1790s and they think George Washington. We started out. We just had the Constitution. We fixed the problems of the Articles of Confederation. Democracy was launched and on its way. But you tell a slightly different story.

Suzanne Metler:

That's right. So, this was really quite fascinating to me to learn about the 1790s. No sooner was the ink dry on the constitution than some of those who'd been involved in creating it, and others who were considered Founding Fathers of the American Republic, who had earlier on been opposed to political parties, they became the creators of the nation's first political parties. And no sooner had that happened than they were really at war with each other. Political leaders really at war with each other in a very fierce political battle. They saw the future of this young nation being at stake, and each camp thought that the other was going to undermine the nation and that monarchy would be restored or aristocracy. That the nation would break into. And that it would be the end when the nation had barely gotten started. So, you had, first of all, the Washington administration get started and Hamilton, secretary treasury, and George Washington, and most members of Congress were Federalists. And the counter party was started by Madison and Jefferson, and they called themselves the Democratic Republicans, or sometimes just the Republicans. And they had different views about public policy, about what the role of the federal government should be. Hamilton had his financial plan to try to pay off the war debts. And so, for example, that included a tax on distilled spirits. This led to The Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania, which at that time is pretty close to the frontier. So, you had farmers who were upset at these taxes they were going to have to pay to the federal government, and they mobilized, and they went after federal tax collectors. They would tar and feather people, which was a form of torture at the time that none of us would want to go through. And this kind of simmered off and on for a few years. And then finally, they were planning to take over an armory and to disrupt the federal mail service. And at this point, the Washington administration is fearful that there's going to be a civil war. And so, Washington then leads federal troops across Pennsylvania. Excuse me, not federal troops. These are troops, the federal government didn't yet have a standing army, but they gathered troops up from several states, from four states. And he led them together, 15,000 troops, to Western Pennsylvania. By the time they get there, the rebels have disbanded. And the real leaders have fled into the frontier. But it was quite striking to have the president acting as commander in chief and really trying to put down an insurrection. This outraged the Republicans, who saw it as very heavy handed. And you go on through the whole 1790s with one episode after the other, of the Federalists engaging in what the Republicans saw as federal overreach. And then the Republicans trying to help the states to mobilize against the federal government. But even at the very beginning, it's fascinating. We talk about, today, the problems with having a partisan media for polarization, but the partisan media began right out of the gate with Hamilton. There was a newspaper that gave the views of the federal government, but then you had Jefferson creating a newspaper to be a mouthpiece for the Republicans. And all of them would write anonymously. Basically, these were anonymous op-eds that they would write in these newspapers, saying terrible things about the leaders of the other party and saying why they thought their policies were wrong. And this helped to create more partisanship among ordinary citizens. Ordinary citizens became quite engaged in politics in a way that was rather tribal quite early on as well. So, things just kept intensifying through the 1790s until you get to the election of 1800. And then, at that point in time, there have only been presidents from one party, both Washington with a couple of terms and John Adams. And so, the question is, can the other party win an election, and can you have a peaceful transfer of power? So, the election happens. People are really fearful that there's going to be violence and things could go badly. The election happens and it's deadlocked. So, it gets thrown into the House of Representatives to decide the outcome, and months go by until they convene. They finally convene. They have vote at after vote and it's inconclusive.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, we should point out here though, it's deadlocked in the sense that Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson have the same number of electoral college votes, because the initial version of the Constitution wasn't designed in such a way to prevent that outcome. And so, the question was, who would be the president, Jefferson or Burr, or would the Federalists find some way to get John Adams, who ran even further behind, into the first seat? So, there was a little bit of a glitch, which has since been fixed the Constitution, that set up this battle.

Suzanne Metler:

Exactly. Yeah. So, the Republicans, it seemed, had the intention that Jefferson was the top of the ticket and that Burr was running as vice president. But that was not clearly indicated in the voting procedures, so they seemed to be tied. And then, behind them, was John Adams. So, here you had Congress still being controlled by the Federalists. So, one choice they had was to have really usurped the election and declared Adams the winner. So, it was really down to the wire. And then finally, one individual, James Bayard from Delaware, for reasons that are unknown to history, changed his vote, threw his support to Jefferson, and then Jefferson became the winner. And then there was a peaceful transfer of power for the first time. But it was not at all clear that was going to happen. And then one other thing I want to mention about this is that we tend to look back at that moment, the outcome of the election, and to say this was a great victory for democracy. And yet, when you look more closely, we can't call it that. In fact, what historians have found is that, were it not for the 3/5 clause, in fact, Jefferson would not have been the winner. It would've been John Adams, yet again. And so, one of the themes that we found in writing this book is that, time again, in our history, when there has been a conflict over democracy, the ultimate settlement is at the cost of people of color, particularly African Americans. It's a reoccurring theme. And it happened in that instance. In the 1790s, there really not a conflict between the parties over the status of, then, slaves.

Jim Lindsay:

So, the 3/5 clause refers to the clause in the Constitution that states that, for the purposes of counting electoral votes, enslaved people would be counted as 3/5 of a person, which inflated the political power of the Southern states. I want to sort of pick up on that issue there, because obviously when you write about the 1790s, this is where the threat of polarization really takes prominence. But let's go forward a century to the 1890s, where it's about more than just polarization. Polarization is there, but also income inequality, but also racism where the question of who belongs to the community. And could you basically sketch out that crisis of American democracy? Maybe particularly beginning with where you open your chapter on that, which is what happened in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898?

Suzanne Metler:

Yes, that's right. Let me just say that there are two occasions in American history when these first three threats that I mentioned have converged, and one of them was the 1850s and it led up to the Civil War. And then the next time was the 1890s. So, in the 1890s, a story that I think is really revealing is what happens in 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Now, this was a city that was a success story in the south at that point in time, in that there was a growing Black middle class. African Americans served in many local offices, on the board of alderman, and at that point in time, the Democrats, which were a party led by white elites, was the dominant party in the South. African Americans, after the Civil War, became politically active as Republicans. And then there was also the emergence in the late 19th century of the Populist Party. And this came out of the agrarian movement of farmers in the South and west. And so they were active in North Carolina as well. And what happened in the midst of the 1890s is that the Republican and the Populists realized that, if they would work together and run candidates on what they call the Fusion Ballot, that they could actually beat the Democrats, or they stood a chance to beat the Democrats. So, that's what they did, starting in the mid 1890s. And they were very successful and they started winning lots of seats at all levels. They were sending people to Congress, the House and Senate. They managed to elect governor to take control of the state house, and also these local offices. So, at this point, the Democrats, the white Democrats decided that they'd had enough. And they really wanted to reverse what was happening in these elections, and they wanted to claim power at all costs. So, they ran a big campaign, and they had a multi-step effort to reclaim power in 1898. And it started with what became a coup in the city of Wilmington. So, in this city, which, as I was saying was where there was a large black middle class, on the morning of November 10, 1898, there were several thousand and white men who gathered. They were in these paramilitary groups called The Red Shirts and the White Government Union. They gather at the city armory in the morning, and then they marched first to the offices of this Black owned newspaper, which was the only Black own newspaper in the country that was a daily, at that time. They marched to its offices and they burned it down. Burned it to the ground. They watched as the flames devoured it. Then they proceeded to march into Black neighborhoods, many of them on horseback and heavily armed, and they killed hundreds of people as the day went on. They also took people from their homes, particularly community leaders, and they would march them straight to the train station and banish them from town. And at the end of the day, the Democratic leaders gathered the Board of Alderman and the mayor and the sheriff and so on, and they made all of these people resign at gunpoint, and they installed their own in their place. So, then the key thing is what happens afterward? After all of this, in the months that followed, in North Carolina, these Democrats then changed the voting rules, and they instated poll taxes and literacy tests, which gave them the opportunity to ever after to win elections, because had basically disenfranchised a large enough share of the opposition that they could win elections going forward. And I tell this story about North Carolina because it brought out into the open what happened in states all over the south at this time. They didn't have the coup d'etat, as North Carolina did, but Democrats in all of these other states found ways to change the voting rules so that they could disenfranchise people and become the dominant party and win at all costs. And so, you had, at that point, after decades during which democracy had seemed to be on the rise in the South, and African Americans had been voting at high levels, even after the end of the formal end of Reconstruction, but all of that comes to an end. And then it lasts for 60 years. So, once people had lost their political rights, then they lost their civil rights and civil liberties, as well, as Jim Crow gets set up. And it's in place for 60 years. So, this was authoritarianism that was established at the subnational level in the United States, at the regional level. And this happens in lots of countries where democracy is endangered. And it happened with the federal government looking on and not taking action to the contrary. And so, it was soon after that, that you had various Republican presidents, the Republican party that previously had been trying to work for the voting rights of Blacks in the south, they decided to cast their fortunes elsewhere. At that point in time, they were gaining more support in the West. They didn't need the South. And so, you had president Theodore Roosevelt following McKinley, and then before, Taft, all three of them really condoned this and looked the other way. McKinley's president when he's hearing pleas from Blacks in Wilmington, North Carolina, saying, "Please send in help." And he does nothing. And ultimately, all three branches of the federal government condone what has happened to African Americans in the South. And it lasts for decades to come.

Jim Lindsay:

Now, I think, Suzanne, a lot of people listening to this will say they hear echoes of that today, in terms of the efforts we're seeing right now across the country, or particularly in the South, to change the rules regarding who can vote and how people can vote. We're not talking about poll taxes or literary tests. I will note that the Supreme Court has ruled those to be unconstitutional, though go back to your earlier point, it was the Supreme Court who actually, in the 1890s and in early 1900s, in a variety of rulings, legitimated those practices and helped it become part of the fabric. And of course, beginning in the 1950s, that would be overturned. But as we look forward, I think my sense is your great concern, as you mentioned at the top of our discussion, is that the fourth threats that you've seen appearing over the course of American history are really present today, in terms of polarization, racial/ethnic divisions, issues of income inequality, and also executive aggrandizement. And that's what makes today's situation so dangerous or toxic. But I have to ask you a question. What do we do about it? And I ask that in the background of, we talk a lot about polarization, but I'm not sure we know where it comes from or what steps to take to stop it. I mean, it's fine for me to say to my friends, "You should be reasonable," but of course, that may get into definitions about who's being reasonable, who committed the first sin, who's merely responding to a provocation and the rest. So, how can the United States get out of this situation? How has it gotten out of this predicament before?

Suzanne Metler:

Right. That is the key question. So, what we've learned about these threats is that, once they are gaining momentum, they tend to continue to gain momentum. It's very hard to reverse them. If you had interviewed me just about exactly a year ago, I might have said that, if the United States had faced some major conflict that the whole nation had to address, such as a pandemic, that would help us to overcome polarization. But in fact, what we've seen during this pandemic is that it only deepened polarization, where it became a political act whether you're going to wear a mask or not. And so, it's very difficult to reverse these four threats and political scientists, the more we study it, the more we tend to come to that conclusion. So, I think the better way to go about saving democracy is to work on strengthening those pillars of democracy that I was mentioning. So, free and fair elections and all of the principles surrounding electoral integrity and the rule of law, the legitimacy of the opposition and the integrity of rights. So, all of these things are fundamental, and the way it should work and has long worked throughout my lifetime in the United States is that we have two major parties and both parties, they can disagree on all kinds of public policy issues and maybe on some values, but they both have to value democracy. They've both got to say, "We are going to play by the rules of the game, this basic democratic rule book, which is upholding these pillars of democracy." The danger right now is that one of our two major parties is seeming less committed to that. But that's only true at the national level. I mean, we're seeing, at the state level, as I was mentioning, state and local officials who were election administrators were very much upholding standard practice. But I think, coming out of Watergate, Democrats and Republicans came together to try to protect democracy and they created various reforms. For example, the system of inspectors general and various other procedures to try to keep an eye on the president's going forward and the executive branch going forward. Some of those things have become weakened and need to be strengthened, but also there are all sorts of other smaller scale reforms along those lines that could be very helpful for strengthening democracy. And so I think that Americans, at some level, do believe in these basic principles. You'll see it in public opinion polls, that Americans of either party believe in them, although as polarization grows, that becomes a little bit more contentious, but I think that it's strengthening those basic principles that's very important.

Jim Lindsay:

I take that point, and I have seen the same polls. It's just that Americans still value democracy, though you can find polls which some alarming results among younger people in particular about the value of democracy and its utility. But it seems to me, on a lot of these issues, that doesn't get us very far. It's sort of like agreeing with your friends that you want to go out to eat Friday night. That doesn't mean you can agree what time or which restaurant or what kind of cuisine to take. Just on this issue of free and fair elections, which you've raised, again, the evidence suggested the election of 2020 was the fairest and most secure in American history. But obviously, for many Republicans, they believe that we did not have free and fair elections, and they argue that in a number of states, Pennsylvania is the one that comes to mind most often, in their view, the state didn't follow its own rules about mail in balloting, and that this became a violation of that norm. Whereas Democrats say, "No, we're fighting for free and fair elections." And Republicans counter and say, "No, you don't." And you have this problem where you can't even agree either on the boundaries of the discussion or what the facts are. And I don't know whether there is a legislative innovation that can get you out of that conundrum, where you simply can't agree on what the facts are at dispute.

Suzanne Metler:

Right. Well, I think you're putting your finger very much on the crooks of the problems. Now, you had, on the night of January 6th after the insurrection, when Congress reconvenes, there were 139 Republicans in the House and a handful of Republicans in the Senate who refused to certify the election of some states, of Pennsylvania and I believe Arizona. And they've been called the Sedition Caucus. I mean, this is fundamentally counter to democracy. At this point, when there was no evidence that had been upheld in court, suggesting that the election had been anything but free and fair, to then refuse to go along with the results is fundamentally problematic. And so what can we do with that? I think we just have to come back to the basic principles that Americans really like sports, and we know that, in sports, someone's going to win and one team will win, another will lose. And we accept that. That's absolutely how democratic politics has to work. It can't be that you only go along with the results of election when your candidate wins. It's over when that happens. So, I think that it's really important to keep saying this and to make it very clear what's at stake, because we are in a time when people are becoming increasingly tribal. But I think it's very important to underscore these basic rules of the game that we have to be willing to play by if democratic politics is going to work.

Jim Lindsay:

So, Suzanne, let me ask you one final question in closing, and that is, as you look to the coming years, are you an optimist about American democracy or are you a pessimist?

Suzanne Metler:

Well, I'm a fundamentally optimistic person. So, I might be falling back on that. Also, I really love of this country and I believe very deeply in the fundamentals about what has been really good and positive about the United States. I think we've long told a story about the United States that, while it was by no means democratic at the beginning, particularly because of slavery and because of the exclusion of lots of people from basic rights, it's become more democratic over time. In writing this book Four Threats, it really complicated that story for me, because I realized that we've had many times in our history when democracy's really been threatened and sometimes when we did have actual backsliding, as in the case of the 1890s, as I was saying. But I also think that, over the past 50 years, the United States has generally been becoming more democratic. And in some ways, that's what this conflict is about. In some ways there is still a portion of the population who cannot accept democracy becoming more inclusive, and that's frightening to people or off putting to people. But I do have faith in this country. And I say that as much out of hope. I don't have any crystal ball, but I think that it was a very big deal to have a president who acted as a demagogue, in many ways, voted out of office by people in a very high voter turnout election. And I think that many aspects of the political system worked very well throughout. There is a broad democratic culture, so I'm putting my confidence in that for going forward.

Jim Lindsay:

On that optimistic note, I'll close up The President's Inbox for this week. My guest has been Suzanne Metler. She is the John Ellis Sr Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University. She is the co-author of the new book Four Threats: the Recurring Crises of American Democracy. Suzanne, thank you for joining me.

Suzanne Metler:

Oh, I've so enjoyed it. Thank you, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

Please subscribe to the presence inbox in Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen, and leave us your review. They help us get noticed and improve the show. As always, opinions expressed in The President's Inbox are solely those are the hosts or our guests, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's episode was produced by Zoe Collis, with senior producer, Jeremy Sherlick. Zoe also did double duty as a recording engineer, as she has done ever since we had to go remote. Thank you, Zoe. Special thanks to Margaret Gach, for her assistance. This is Jim Lindsay. Thanks for listening.

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Sheila A. Smith, CFR’s John E. Merow senior fellow for Asia-Pacific studies, and Scott A. Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S....

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Steven A. Cook, CFR’s Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies and director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured Internation...

Steven A. Cook, CFR’s Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies and director of the International Affairs Fellowship for Tenured Internation...

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Derek H. Chollet, Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the Biden administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of U...

Derek H. Chollet, Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the Biden administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of U...

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Ebenezer Obadare, Douglas Dillon senior fellow for Africa studies at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how African countries are responding to the Russ...

Ebenezer Obadare, Douglas Dillon senior fellow for Africa studies at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how African countries are responding to the Russ...

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Top Stories on CFR

Immigration and Migration

Women and Women's Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion for almost fifty years. How does regulation of abortion in the United States compare to that in the rest of the world?

World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO members confounded expectations last week by concluding a deal on fisheries subsidies, the first major multilateral agreement in nearly a decade. But the trade body is not out of the woods yet.