voice for democracy

An Open Letter in Defense of Democracy – Dissent

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
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Keith Vaughan, “Drawing of a seated male nude,” 1949. Courtesy the estate of Keith Vaughan / Creative Commons.
Political strategist Jessica Byrd. Courtesy of Three Points Strategies.
Stacey Abrams, Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. Photo courtesy of David Kidd/Governing.
A drawing made for the author by a five-year-old girl in detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas (Courtesy of Nara Milanich)
A drawing made for the author by a five-year-old girl in detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas (Courtesy of Nara Milanich)
A drawing made for the author by a five-year-old girl in detention at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas (Courtesy of Nara Milanich)

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Jair Bolsonaro, at a debate about violence against women in Brazil’s chamber of deputies, September 2016. Photo by Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.
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Bundle of $10 bags of heroin. Photo by Fernando Montero Castrillo.
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Courtesy of Robert Greene
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Syria: Kurds make up perhaps 15 percent of the population and live mostly in the northeastern part of Syria. In 1962, after Syria was declared an Arab republic, a large number of Kurds were stripped of their citizenship and declared aliens, which made it impossible for them to get an education, jobs, or any public benefits. Their land was given to Arabs. The PYD was founded in 2003 and immediately banned; its members were jailed and murdered, and a Kurdish uprising in Qamishli was met with severe military violence by the regime. When the uprising against Bashar al Assad began as part of the Arab Spring, Kurds participated, but after 2012, when they captured Kobani from the Syrian army, they withdrew most of their energy from the war against Assad in order to set up a liberated area. For this reason, some other parts of the Syrian resistance consider them Assad’s allies. The Kurds in turn cite examples of discrimination against them within the opposition.

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Letter from the Indians of All Tribes to the National Council on Indian Opportunity, January 1970 (National Parks Service)
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Protest against neoliberalism in Colombia, 2013

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