- “We tend to think about things like coups — that’s the way democracies die,” he says. “They die in a firefight, or they die in a president being abducted by the military and shuffled off into exile. A real impetus of this course was on the ways that democratic backsliding can be extremely subtle and difficult to detect.”
As an example, he cites a leader enacting libel laws that inhibit free speech or electoral laws that create barriers for opposition parties. “It tends to happen at the hands of democratically elected leaders,” says Blair. “And often with a veneer — doing things that undermine democracy while arguing that they are taking those actions because they are necessary for democracy,” such as supporting strict voter ID laws by claiming they guard against fraudulent votes.