We are a group of scholars of American political development and comparative politics who have come together to examine the state of democracy in the United States today. Political scientists have been concerned for some time about trends that weaken American democracy, including rising economic inequality, growing polarization, resurgent racism or nativism, and escalating executive power.  Few worried seriously, however, about the prospect of severe deterioration of democracy, never mind regime change, until the historic 2016 election, and the ascendance of a candidate –and now president—who openly violates democratic norms. More disturbing, these developments have brought into bold relief a confluence of threats to American democracy that will likely persist well beyond the current presidency. We convened our group early in 2017, aiming to integrate insights from previous crises in American political history with understanding of the conditions that have threatened democracies around the world. We aim to foster discussion and writing around these topics and to provide materials that are useful for teachers, journalists, and citizens. No other up-and-running working group on the present crisis of American politics combines these disciplinary perspectives–as focused equally on historical experience at home and the comparative experience from abroad.


Lieberman Robert C. Lieberman is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Shifting the Color Line: Race and the American Welfare State and Shaping Race Policy: The United States in Comparative Perspective, and the co-editor (with Suzanne Mettler and Richard Valelly) of the Oxford Handbook of American Political Development.
Mettler Suzanne Mettler is the Clinton Rossiter Chair of American Institutions in the Government Department at Cornell University. She is the author of five books, most recently, The Government-Citizen Disconnect (Russell Sage 2018).
Pepinsky Tom Pepinsky is Associate Professor of Government at Cornell. He is the author of several books and essays on comparative politics, political economy, and identity in Southeast Asia, including most recently Piety and Public Opinion: Understanding Indonesian Islam (Oxford) and “Elections as Causes of Democratization?” (Comparative Political Studies).
Roberts Ken Roberts is the Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government at Cornell University, and a specialist in Latin American and comparative politics. His research explores the intersection of parties, populism, and social movements.  His most recent book is Changing Course in Latin America:  Party Systems in the Neoliberal Era (Cambridge University Press, 2014.)
Valelly Rick Valelly is Claude C. Smith ’14 Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College and a specialist in American political parties, national institutions, and public policy.  His scholarship focuses on democratic development and enfranchisement in the U.S.  His best known work is The Two Reconstructions:  The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (Chicago, 2004.)

The Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI) at Cornell University is devoted to understanding patterns, causes, and consequences of social and economic inequality. CSI fosters new and cutting-edge research, trains undergraduate and graduate students, encourages the exchange of ideas among inequality researchers, and disseminates research findings to a broader public. It supports research and knowledge that is evidence-based and systematic, whether it is “basic” research that develops formal models of the social processes that underpin inequality or “applied” research that assesses the intended or unintended consequences of policies that affect equality of opportunity.

Since 1999, New America has nurtured a new generation of policy experts and public intellectuals. Today we are a community of innovative problem-solvers, combining our core expertise in researching, reporting and analysis with new areas of coding, data science, and human-centered design to experiment and innovate nationally and globally. We prize our intellectual and ideological independence and our diversity, seeking to do our best work and to reflect the America we are becoming.

The Scholars Strategy Network is a one-stop resource that connects journalists, policymakers, and civic leaders to America’s top scholars and their research. Together they inform news and help solve the nation’s toughest policy problems. Across the country, chapters and scholars volunteer their research, time, and energy. Scholars join the network to become part of a community of leading researchers who are dedicated to improving policy and strengthening democracy. Through the network, journalists, policymakers, and civic leaders connect with responsive scholars and jargon-free research to support their work.