MS. ABRAMS The United States has a uniquely problematic system, and that is a U.S. Senate that is controlled through the “filibuster.”
This is an antiquated mechanism that permits the minority party to block majority determinations by simply refusing to end debate. And it has been around for, generations, but it had its ignominious usage during the Civil Rights fights of the 1950s and ’60s
MR. HEALY Why do you think so many democratic systems — not just in the U.S. but around the world — are either unprepared or too vulnerable to deal with the strategies and the tactics of bad-faith actors, of their donors, of their allies in the news media?
MS. ABRAMS Sadly we have this halcyon vision of democracy. We remember the rise of democratic values and the quashing of the authoritarian regimes post-World War II. But what we have witnessed is that there is not the stability of democratic ethos that we thought to be true. We have watched very stable nations fall prey to authoritarianism. Because democracy is only seen as a vital and permanent solution as long as it is the one that provides the greatest [amount of] benefit to [citizens].
And there’s certainly better scholars and theorists than myself who’ve pointed out that competency has been the hallmark of whether democracy can withstand bad actors. But in every nation where we have seen authoritarianism leave traction, it is often because they are able to promise more stability, they are able to promise greater competency than a fragile democratic system.
I think around the world what we have to acknowledge is our responsibility to ensure that not only are we espousing the benefits of democracy as a participatory process, but we’ve got to couple that with demonstrating that it is actually a functioning way to govern nations. And as long as authoritarianism, even with the quashing of individual rights, can show the functioning of government, we start to lose purchase in an argument. But it’s a solvable problem if we are willing to acknowledge it and start to fix it.