This image is the cover for the book Decline and Fall of the American Republic, The Tanner Lectures

Decline and Fall of the American Republic, The Tanner Lectures

“Audacious . . . offers a fierce critique of democracy’s most dangerous adversary: the abuse of democratic power by democratically elected chief executives.” (Benjamin R. Barber, New York Times bestselling author of Jihad vs. McWorld )

Bruce Ackerman shows how the institutional dynamics of the last half-century have transformed the American presidency into a potential platform for political extremism and lawlessness. Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the War on Terror are only symptoms of deeper pathologies. ­Ackerman points to a series of developments that have previously been treated independently of one another?from the rise of presidential primaries, to the role of pollsters and media gurus, to the centralization of power in White House czars, to the politicization of the military, to the manipulation of constitutional doctrine to justify presidential power-grabs. He shows how these different transformations can interact to generate profound constitutional crises in the twenty-first century?and then proposes a series of reforms that will minimize, if not eliminate, the risks going forward.

“The questions [Ackerman] raises regarding the threat of the American Executive to the republic are daunting. This fascinating book does an admirable job of laying them out.” —The Rumpus

“Ackerman worries that the office of the presidency will continue to grow in political influence in the coming years, opening possibilities for abuse of power if not outright despotism.” —Boston Globe

“A serious attention-getter.” —Joyce Appleby, author of The Relentless Revolution

“Those who care about the future of our nation should pay careful heed to Ackerman’s warning, as well as to his prescriptions for avoiding a constitutional disaster.” —Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times

Bruce Ackerman

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University.

The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press