About Johns Hopkins


Return to News Releases

ADVISORY: Johns Hopkins Political Scientist Available To Discuss Threats To U.S. Democracy Emerging In 2020 Election

August 11, 2020
CONTACT: Doug Donovan
Cell: 443-462-2947

As election season ramps up, Johns Hopkins University political scientist Robert Lieberman is available to discuss the four historical forces now combining in an unprecedented manner to threaten the traditional institutions essential for the survival U.S. democracy.

The 2020 election between Republican President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic challenger Joe Biden is playing out against a backdrop of extraordinary political rancor and division that has both sides labeling every move by the other as traitorous and unconstitutional.

Lieberman, co-author of the just published Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, can discuss how this political atmosphere harkens to multiple periods in U.S. history when democracy faltered in the face of secession, civil war, the loss of civil rights and the rise of autocratic presidents.

During each crisis “the four pillars of democracy” – free and fair elections, the rule of law, the legitimacy of opposition parties, and the integrity of Constitutional rights – teetered near destruction, he said.

The four threats that have emerged in previous precarious moments for U.S. democracy are categorized as:

  • Political polarization
  • Rising economic inequality
  • Nativism and racism
  • Excessive executive power

“For the first time ever we face the convergence of all four threats at once,” he said.

Lieberman can explain how all four threats have been building for decades, producing a dangerous convergence of which the Trump presidency is more symptom than cause. To avoid further backsliding, voters have to overcome their distrust of democratic institutions and prioritize their protection.

Reporters who want to interview Lieberman, please contact Doug Donovan at 443-462-2947.


Johns Hopkins University news releases are available online, as is information for reporters. To arrange a video or audio interview with a Johns Hopkins expert, contact a media representative listed above or visit our studio web page. Find more Johns Hopkins stories on the Hub

Office of Communications
Johns Hopkins University
3910 Keswick Road, Suite N2600
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
Phone: 443-997-9009 | Fax: 443 997-1006