Recommended Reading

Levitsky and Ziblatt on emergency powers.

From the NYT about a month ago, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt:  Why Autocrats Love Emergencies.

I would recommend the entire piece, but will note some key quotes:

Autocratic-minded leaders, by contrast, find democratic politics intolerably frustrating. Most lack the skills or the temperament for the give-and-take of everyday politics. They are allergic to criticism and compromise. They have little patience for the intricacies of the legislative process.

Sound familiar?

Again:  read the whole thing.  And if you haven’t read their book, How Democracies Die, I would recommend that as well.

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Both the problem and solution to our present “emergency” is the Congress. The Congress should never have enacted the National Emergency Act which delegates powers that should reside in the Congress to the president. The Congress should repeal it.

  2. CSK says:

    Well, of course Trump has no patience for the legislative process, nor any desire to learn about it. He spent his adult life as the head of a ramshackle, corrupt, inherited fiefdom where his word was law. That’s his training. That’s his experience. He doesn’t listen to expert advice; he listens to his gut–which appears to have led him into a truly astounding number of bankruptcies.

  3. Jake says:
  4. @Dave Schuler: Yes and no. Note that the Truman example that keeps cropping up was prior to this law (as was Lincoln’s famous actions in the Civil War). The law in question was supposed to actually constrain presidents–that is: emergency powers and actions were not created by it, so the solution is not as simple as you suggest.

    But sure: Congress could fix a lot things that it won’t, including the budget process.

    It is an easy thing to say, but reality is more complicated. Of course, as I often argue, if we actually elected a representative Congress, we might get some actual solutions.

  5. Jake says:
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dave Schuler: @Steven L. Taylor: Congress seems to be *presently* filled with people desperate to avoid responsibility. As long as that is the case, I don’t see this getting resolved.

    ** I know this was true to at least some extent when Obama had a fully DEM congress too.

  7. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Congress seems to be *presently* filled with people desperate to avoid responsibility.

    Part of ongoing argument is that our institutional structures tend to elect people who will continue to be so disposed.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    IIRC William Greider in Secrets of the Temple made the argument that Congress has the authority to regulate the Federal Reserve, but they won’t because that would mean taking responsibility for economic outcomes. Seems to be a generally applicable argument.