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Will Democracy Survive President Trump? Two New Books Aren’t So Sure

The book seems to have been written in haste, a patchwork of bits and pieces from his Atlantic columns, additional examples of Trumpian malfeasance, and new ways of expressing old outrage. Frum has followed the blogger’s template, clogging his text with block quotes. Rambling disquisitions by Steve Bannon and Trump prove little besides the exceedingly hard time they have getting to a point. Paragraphs of wire stories are reprinted verbatim. Frum’s prescriptions for responding to Trump amount to cut-rate self-help: “Resistance begins by refusing to let him corrupt you personally.”


Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times

Frum has the pamphleteer’s flair for the scathing epithet, which can be energizing or enervating, depending on your tolerance for hyperbole. Even sympathetic readers may feel besieged when he works himself up to full throttle. “No single person could possibly plumb the foulnesses of the Trump presidency.” “The Trump White House is a mess of careless slobs.” Trump himself is “the most shameless liar in the history of the presidency.”

On that last note, Levitsky and Ziblatt might not disagree, though in “How Democracies Die” they are more methodical and less fervid in their assessments. The most withering designation they offer for President Trump is — get ready for it — “serial norm breaker.”

Then again, Levitsky and Ziblatt are political scientists, for whom

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