Friday, 22 September 2023

Is American Democracy Unreformable? The Anatomy of an Enduring Political Crisis

Part Two of the Online Event Series "(Un)Solvable Problems?"

Daniel Ziblatt and Maximilian Steinbeis in Conversation

The current crisis of the American political system is not caused simply by cult-like following of a demagogic leader but is more endemic, rooted in the structure of the U.S. constitution. The U.S. constitution, written in a pre-democratic era, is the oldest written constitution in the world. America has democratized over the past two centuries, like other countries, as citizens have done the hard work of making their constitutions more democratic. But over the past fifty years, this effort has essentially stopped, thwarted by a constitution that now appears almost unamendable. Does this make reform impossible?

This conversation will reflect on the predicament of an essentially unchangeable constitution and what this means for the future of democracy in America.

Daniel Ziblatt is Director of the WZB Research Unit Transformations of Democracy.

Maximilian Steinbeis is a legal journalist and chief editor of Verfassungsblog.


The event is part of the new WZB series (Un)Solvable Problems? Social Science Perspectives on the Challenges of our Time, which will take place online on Fridays from 9 to 10 a.m. until 8 December 2023.

You can listen to all events in our blog.