Roosevelt Montas on "Democracy's Disappearance"

Editor's note:

Read Roosevelt Montás's editorial "Democracy's Disappearance" in the Chronicle of Higher Education

October 03, 2017

In the wake of Donald J. Trump's surprising ascendence to the American presidency, Roosevelt Montás saw many of his students and colleagues declaring the election a "failure of democracy." But as Director of the Core Curriculum at Columbia University and professor of the "Freedom & Citizenship" high school and undergraduate courses through the Center for American Studies, Professor Montás has a different perspective.

The election of Donald Trump, he argues in an editorial for the Chronicle of Higher Education, was not a failure of democracy. Columbia's sophomores would know that nearly all great political thinkers feared pure democracy because of what Alexis de Tocqueville later termed the "tyranny of the masses." Instead, Montás explains, our founders set about to create liberal democracy, "a democracy with emergency brakes against the force of democratic consensus and hedged against itself by constitutional guarantees of freedom, even when the exercise of this freedom goes against popular opinion."

According to Professor Montás, it is this liberal democracy that is now under siege, and it is the responsibility of America's colleges to do something about it. Who has taken up that call so far, what impact can they have, and what is preventing the rest of the academy from educating its students for citizenship in a liberal democracy? Read Roosevelt Montás's editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Education to find out.