“Democracy is by definition a volatile institution in the sense that it must be able to be challenged,” says Judith Kelley, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, whose areas of research include human rights, democracy and international election observation.
“The laws that we have in place and the procedures we have in place allow for multiple ways to challenge those in power. This is rightful. If we did not have in place procedures that allowed those in power or the outcome of elections to be challenged then our democracy would be even more vulnerable to abuse of power.”
“The test of a democracy is not whether it is tested, but how it meets the test. So far American democracy and our institutions have held. What the debate in Congress today and what the last two months have made so evident is just how much our institutions rest not just on rules but also on norms. It is indeed the norms that enable the system of governance to operate stably.”
“The storming of the capital today is a strong breach of both the rule of law and of our democratic norms. Hopefully the silver lining will be that the test of our democracy has revealed ways that it can and must be strengthened for the future.”
“What we are seeing right now is what we are accustomed to condemning in other countries. For decades we have sought to promote peace, law and order and democracy in other countries. Today we have egg on our face.”
Judith Kelley is dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, where she is also a senior fellow with the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Her areas of research include human rights, democracy and international election observation.
“We are witnessing what happens when the political process no longer operates under a set of shared and agreed-upon facts, and when members of our own government contribute wholeheartedly to the fragmented reality that today’s news and information ecosystem fosters,” says Phil Napoli, a professor of public policy at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy who researches media and democracy.
“This is a disgraceful moment from which I hope we can rebuild our expectations for what we require from our elected leaders and from the news and information sources that we rely on.”
Phil Napoli is a professor of public policy and a faculty member at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke, where he researches new ideas for social media regulation, news deserts and the contraction of news media.
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Duke experts on a variety of political topics can be found at https://communications.duke.edu/2020-election-experts/.