We are in the middle of what some are calling a “democracy recession” not just globally but in the U.S. as well. A recent Pew study found, in the U.S., “46 percent of those aged 18 to 29 would prefer to be governed by experts” and a study by Mounk and Foa in the Journal of Democracy reported one quarter of American millennials agreed that “choosing leaders through free elections is unimportant.”

Statistics like these abound. Yale political scientist Tim Snyder argued that “it’s no surprise that millennials don’t support democracy” because they reasonably anticipate they will be worse off than their parents. Snyder pointed to growing economic insecurity and inequality – as well as new voter suppression laws – as sources of frustration with democracy. As Ian Bremmer has pointed out, the display of “hanging chads” and the electoral dysfunction of the 2000 election looms large in the minds of would-be democrats overseas. Instead of prodding foreign governments to be more democratic, the United States could focus on being a better exemplar of democracy. This project seeks to understand how we can model a democracy worthy of emulation, and develop a strategy of democracy attraction rather than democracy promotion.

In The News

This article is part of Independent America, a three-year research project led out by EGF senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how U.S. foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.