POLITICAL EVENTS IN RECENT YEARS have overturned prior certainties such as the dominance of moderates on the left or the right, respect for expertise and regard for truth, and a presumption of friendship rather than enmity between compatriots. The rule of incumbent politicians and parties has given way to insurgents fighting against the old order of policy and politics in the United States and around the world. These insurgents have elevated notions that were unacceptable in political discourse just a few years ago: Brexit, walling out immigrants, a universal basic income, and wealth taxes.
The basic terms of democratic governance are shifting before our eyes, and we don’t know what the future holds. Some fear the rise of hateful populism and the collapse of democratic norms and practices. Others see opportunities for marginalized people and groups to exercise greater voice and influence. At the Kennedy School, we are striving to produce ideas and insights to meet these great uncertainties and to help make democratic governance successful in the future. In the pages that follow, you can read about the varied ways our faculty members think about facets of democracy and democratic institutions and making democracy better in practice.