The 2019 Global Policy Institute Book Award was presented to Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt for their book “How Democracies Die” on Thursday, October 17th. Both Levitsky and Ziblatt are professors of government at Harvard University. Levitsky is the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and a Professor of Government. Ziblatt is the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, and specializes in the study of Europe and the history of democracy.
Steven Levitsky was present to accept the award and discuss the major themes of his book, as well as participate in an audience Q&A. In “How Democracies Die,” the two authors draw on their knowledge of European and Latin American democracies to diagnose the universal democratic norms vital to a healthy democracy: mutual toleration, viewing the opposing political party as legitimate and deserving a chance to run for office; and institutional forbearance, when politicians willingly abstain from using all available powers to accomplish their goals. The authors also examine the decline of these norms in the United States, and what that means for the country.
Michael Genovese, the president of the Global Policy Institute, described the process of choosing each year’s Book Award recipient as often involving much debate and disagreement, but said that “How Democracies Die” immediately stood out as the clear winner this year. In her introduction Robin D. Crabtree, Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, lauded the book’s importance in light of our current political turbulence. “There’s no better time to think about the state of our democracy than in the midst of impeachment investigations, foreign policy controversies, and presidential election cycles,” she said. “Regardless of our backgrounds, our party loyalties, our issue-based opinions, or our ideological leanings, we must hold fast to our civic ideals and endeavor to be deeply informed and well-reasoned in support of our civic responsibilities.”