The Crisis of American Democracy
Join us for a conversation with William G. Howell and Terry M. Moe, jointly sponsored by Stanford Continuing Studies and the University of Chicago Graham School.
About the Event
Could American democracy’s long, ambitious run come to an end? It’s not unthinkable. As William G. Howell (University of Chicago) and Terry M. Moe (Stanford) argue in their book, Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy, the United States faces a historic crisis that threatens its system of self-government—and if democracy is to be saved, the causes of this crisis must be understood and defused. Disruptive social forces—globalization, automation, immigration—have generated cultural anxieties and economic harms for tens of millions of Americans: problems that our government has been entirely ineffective at addressing. The result has been a surge in populist, anti-government rage that has dangerously reshaped our political landscape and threatened to bring our democracy down.
What can be done to safeguard American democracy? The disruptive forces of modernity cannot be stopped. The solution lies, Howell and Moe argue, in having a government that can deal with them effectively—and thus in having a presidency that, with appropriate reforms, is powerful enough to promote effective government yet sufficiently constrained that a rogue president cannot threaten democracy itself. During this conversation jointly sponsored by Stanford and University of Chicago, Howell and Moe will discuss their prescriptions for addressing the nation’s crisis of American democracy, while also reflecting on the first year of the Biden administration—a year that saw the country emerging from a pandemic and seeking effective government through presidential policies that boldly echo F.D.R.’s New Deal.
William G. Howell
Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics
William Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the College, and the director of the Center for Effective Government. He has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. He currently is working on research projects on Obama's education initiatives, distributive politics, and the normative foundations of executive power.
Howell is the author, most recently, of Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy (University of Chicago Press, 2020) and Relic: How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government—and Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency (Basic Books, 2016), with Terry M. Moe. He is also the author, with Saul Jackman and Jon Rogowski, of The Wartime President: Executive Influence and the Nationalizing Politics of Threat (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and, with David Brent, Thinking about the Presidency: The Primacy of Power (Princeton University Press, 2013). He also is the co-author (with Jon Pevehouse) of While Dangers Gather: Congressional Checks on Presidential War Powers (Princeton University Press, 2007); author of Power without Persuasion: The Politics of Direct Presidential Action (Princeton University Press, 2003); co-author (with Paul Peterson) of The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools (Brookings Institution Press, 2002); co-author (with John Coleman and Ken Goldstein) of an introductory American politics textbook series; and editor of additional volumes on the presidency and school boards. His research also has appeared in numerous professional journals and edited volumes.
Howell has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Bradley Foundation. He is the recipient, among other academic awards, of the William Riker award for the best book in political economy, the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress, the Richard Neustadt award for the best book on the American presidency, and the E.E. Schattschneider Award for the best dissertation in American Politics. He has written for a wide variety of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Education Week, and Education Next.
Before coming to Harris, Howell taught in the government department at Harvard University and the political science department at the University of Wisconsin. In 2000, he received a PhD in political science from Stanford University.
Terry M. Moe
William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science
Terry M. Moe is the William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
He has written extensively on the presidency and public bureaucracy, as well as American politics and political institutions more generally. His articles include "The New Economics of Organization," "The Politicized Presidency," "The Politics of Bureaucratic Structure," "Political Institutions: The Neglected Side of the Story," "Presidents, Institutions, and Theory," “The Presidential Power of Unilateral Action” (with William Howell), “Power and Political Institutions,” “Political Control and the Power of the Agent,.” “Vested Interests and Political Institutions,” “Public Sector Unions and the Costs of Government” (with Sarah Anzia), and “Do Politicians Use Policy to Make Politics? The Case of Public Sector Labor Laws” (with Sarah Anzia). His most recent books are Relic: How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government--And Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency (with William Howell, 2016), and Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy (with William Howell, 2020).
He has also written extensively on the politics of American education. His most recent books are The Politics of Institutional Reform: Katrina, Education, and the Second Face of Power (2019); The Comparative Politics of Education: Teachers Unions and Education Systems Around the World (edited with Susanne Wiborg, 2017); and Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools (2011). His past work on education includes Politics, Markets, and America's Schools (1990) and Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education (2009), both with John E. Chubb, and Schools, Vouchers, and the American Public (2001).