While the phrase ‘constitutional democracy’ might not be one that gets thrown around on a daily basis, it is still an exceptionally important concept since so many of the world’s leading nations operate under such a societal system. Sujit Choudhry, a Berkeley professor, has spent his life researching everything to do with constitutional democracies, and what he has learned is quite shocking. There is no doubt that constitutional democracies produce stable, happy societies, but Choudhry has discovered a crack in the system that could eventually lead to its downfall. He discusses this development in his most recent article. Read more on constitutionaltransitions.org.
Constitutional democracies bring together a foundation of laws and a system of equal voices to produce a society that is fair and balanced. However, that sort of open-ended freedom often has its downsides, and one downside could potentially allow those with nefarious intentions to gain power and keep it permanently using the very tools of democracy that so many hold dear. Choudhry points to the situation in Poland as proof of what can happen when a constitutional democracy is allowed to decay from the inside.
When Poland first elected to give majority control to the newly-formed right-wing nationalist party, it seemed like the anti-establishment cry from the populace demanding change, but the change they received is probably not what they expected. With such complete control, this radical conservative party was able to remake the constitution of the nation as they saw fit. What remains is a husk of its former efficient self, but the nation still labels itself as a constitutional democracy simply because that was the system that allowed these radicals to take control.
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Choudhry makes a connection between those events in Poland and certain developments in the United States. The Trump administration is certainly conservative enough to fall under the category of nationalism, and they clearly believe in a more authoritarian style of governing. Should Trump prove that point by stepping across a constitutional line in the sand, it will be a test for America unlike any it has ever seen. It’s much more difficult to fight the enemy hidden within.
Keep up with Choudhry’s latest tweets, visit Twitter.