The new book is the second collaboration between the Harris, Stanford professors, following 2016’s “Relic”.
"Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy," out now.

CHICAGO – In the midst of a momentous election year, William Howell, the Sydney Stein Professor of American Politics at Harris Public Policy, and Terry M. Moe, William Bennett Munro Professor in Political Science at Stanford, have released a new book, Presidents, Populism, and the Crisis of Democracy. The book is their second book-length collaboration, following 2016’s Relic: How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government—And Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency.

Has American democracy’s long, ambitious run come to an end? Howell and Moe think it’s possible. The United States faces a historic crisis that threatens our system of self-government—and if democracy is to be saved, the causes of the crisis must be understood and defused, they argue.

While the most visible cause is Donald Trump, he is but a symptom of powerful social forces like globalization, automation, and immigration that for decades have generated economic harms and cultural anxieties that our government has been wholly ineffective at addressing. Millions of Americans have grown angry and disaffected, and populist appeals have found a receptive audience. These are the drivers of Trump’s dangerous presidency – and after he leaves office, they will still be there for other populists to weaponize.

The authors seek to learn what can be done to safeguard American democracy. The solution lies in having a government that can deal with the disruptive forces of modernity. In this trenchant new analysis of modern politics, William G. Howell and Terry M. Moe call for reforms of the presidency itself—reforms that harness the promise of presidential power for effective government but firmly protect against the fear that it may be put to antidemocratic ends.

Professor William Howell

William G. Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and chair of the Department of Political Science. He is also the director of the newly-formed Center for Effective Government at Harris, and host of Not Another Politics Podcast. Terry M. Moe is the William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The book is already receiving praise from leading academics and policymakers, including:

  • “This book highlights an important (and underappreciated) cause of the populism that threatens American democracy: ineffective government. Hard as it may be for Americans to accept, our constitutional system has grown dysfunctional. Howell and Moe propose clear solutions that break sharply with the conventional wisdom. I recommend this book to anyone concerned about the fate of American democracy.”—Steven Levitsky, coauthor of How Democracies Die
  • “Howell and Moe show that Trump’s aggressive demagoguery is a perverse symptom of an American problem of administrative weakness and explain how the presidency can be made more effective, powerful, and accountable at the same time. An original, insightful, and provocative picture of American politics in a populist era.” Jeffrey K. Tulis, coauthor of Legacies of Losing in American Politics
  • “In this clarion call for institutional reform, Howell and Moe argue that populism is not the product of rampant polarization, political tribalism, or undemocratic features of our political system. Rather, the culprit is ineffective government. And the best antidote to populism, paradoxically, is the instrument that catapulted it to power: a reimagined presidency, one that is stronger in important respects, but weaker in others. The arguments are powerful, provocative, and sure to fuel debate over efforts to restore American democracy.” Douglas L. Kriner, coauthor of The Myth of the Imperial Presidency
  • “Howell and Moe make a compelling case about the relationship between ineffective government and populism, namely, that a lack of capable government gives rise to populist leaders who promise to fix the system. The authors propose a bold solution to the problem and—whether or not one agrees with all specifics—force the weight of the argument onto the question of what should be done rather than whether anything should be attempted. A must read for students and scholars interested in contemporary American politics as well as the rise of populism worldwide.” Brandice Canes-Wrone, Princeton University
  • “A timely, powerfully argued book about the dangers American democracy faces from populism—and how these dangers can be overcome by making government more potent and effective. The book is concise, accessible, and crisply written. It is sure to spark important debate.” Eric M. Patashnik, coauthor of Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine