An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy

An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy

The future of democracy in the United States is in danger.

This open letter was also published by The New Republic and The Bulwark.

We are writers, academics, and political activists who have long disagreed about many things.

Some of us are Democrats and others Republicans. Some identify with the left, some with the right, and some with neither. We have disagreed in the past, and we hope to be able to disagree, productively, for years to come. Because we believe in the pluralism that is at the heart of democracy.

But right now we agree on a fundamental point: We need to join together to defend liberal democracy.

Because liberal democracy itself is in serious danger. Liberal democracy depends on free and fair elections, respect for the rights of others, the rule of law, a commitment to truth and tolerance in our public discourse. All of these are now in serious danger.

The primary source of this danger is one of our two major national parties, the Republican Party, which remains under the sway of Donald Trump and Trumpist authoritarianism. Unimpeded by Trump’s defeat in 2020, and unfazed by the January 6 insurrection, Trump and his supporters actively work to exploit anxieties and prejudices, to promote reckless hostility to the truth and to Americans who disagree with them, and to discredit the very practice of free and fair elections in which winners and losers respect the peaceful transfer of power.

So we, who have differed on so much in the past—and who continue to differ on much today—have come together to say:

We vigorously oppose ongoing Republican efforts to change state election laws to limit voter participation.

We vigorously oppose the relentless and unending promotion of unprofessional and phony “election audits” that waste public money, jeopardize public electoral data and voting machines, and generate paranoia about the legitimacy of elections.

We urge the Democratic-controlled Congress to pass effective, national legislation to protect the vote and our elections, and if necessary to override the Senate filibuster rule.

And we urge all responsible citizens who care about democracy—public officials, journalists, educators, activists, ordinary citizens—to make the defense of democracy an urgent priority now.

Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the Republic.

Todd Gitlin
Professor of journalism, sociology and communications, Columbia University

Jeffrey C. Isaac
James H. Rudy professor of political science, Indiana University, Bloomington

William Kristol
Editor at large, The Bulwark
Director, Defending Democracy Together

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only. 

Sheri Berman
Professor of political science, Barnard College

Max Boot
Senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

James Carroll

Leo Casey
Assistant to the president, American Federation of Teachers

Mona Charen
Policy editor, The Bulwark

Noam Chomsky
Institute professor and professor of linguistics emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Jelani Cobb
Professor of journalism, Columbia University

Eliot A. Cohen
Robert E. Osgood professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

David Cole
National legal director, American Civil Liberties Union

Laura K. Field
Senior fellow, Niskanen Center

Carolyn Forché
University professor, Georgetown University

Francis Fukuyama
Olivier Nomellini senior fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University 

William A. Galston
Senior fellow, the Brookings Institution

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb
Michael E. Gellert professor emeritus, New School for Social Research

Hahrie Han
Stavros Niarchos Foundation professor of political science, Johns Hopkins University
Director, SNF Agora Institute

Roya Hakakian

John Judis

Ira Katznelson
Ruggles professor of political science and history, Columbia University

Michael Kazin
Professor of history, Georgetown University

Randall Kennedy
Michael R. Klein professor of law, Harvard University

Steven R. Levitsky
Professor of government, Harvard University

Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.
Psychiatrist and author

Susie Linfield
Professor of journalism, New York University

Damon Linker
Senior correspondent, The Week

Dahlia Lithwick
Senior editor, Slate

Jane Mansbridge
Charles F. Adams professor, emerita, Harvard Kennedy School

Win McCormack
Editor in chief, The New Republic

John McWhorter
Professor of linguistics, Columbia University

Deborah Meier

James Miller
Professor of politics and liberal studies, New School for Social Research

Susan Neiman
Director, Einstein Forum, Berlin

Nell Irvin Painter
Edwards professor of American history emerita, Princeton University

Rick Perlstein

Katha Pollitt

Claire Potter
Professor of history, New School for Social Research

Jedediah Purdy
William S Beinecke professor of law, Columbia University

Jonathan Rauch
Senior fellow, the Brookings Institution

Adolph Reed
Emeritus professor of political science, University of Pennsylvania

Kim Lane Scheppele
Laurance S. Rockefeller professor of sociology and international affairs, Princeton University

Charles Sykes
Founder and editor at large, The Bulwark

George Thomas
Burnet C. Wohlford professor of American political institutions, Claremont McKenna College

Michael Tomasky
Editor, The New Republic
Editor, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

Jeffrey K. Tulis
Professor of government and law, University of Texas

Joan Walsh
Writer, The Nation

Michael Walzer
Professor emeritus of social science, Institute for Advanced Study

Dorian T. Warren
President, Community Change

Sean Wilentz
George Henry Davis 1886 professor of American history, Princeton University

Benjamin Wittes
Senior fellow, the Brookings Institution