Is the survival of constitutional democracy in America at serious risk? Given the actions of the Trump administration, and given the decline of democracy and concomitant rise of authoritarianism the world over, there is genuine cause for alarm. In light of these fears, it is worth remembering that the authors of The Federalist Papers were notably pessimistic about the survival chances of republican government. To what extent have their constitutional design innovations contributed to present woes, and conversely, to what extent will the Constitution ensure the survival of democracy? This Essay argues that while the design of the Constitution is both helpful and harmful, much will ultimately turn on the political dimension. In particular, this Essay claims that the republic will survive only if the ongoing practices of democracy re-affirm its central values. But there are significant challenges to maintaining constitutional democracy. In addition to President Trump in the White House, current challenges include the decline in the democratic norms of civility and compromise, the rise of ideological warfare and hyperpartisanship, and the ever-deepening polarization between opposing camps—not only in government but also in the public at large. In the coming years, the continued vigilance and resistance of individuals and institutions will be crucially important to ensure the survival of constitutional democracy in America.
77 Md. L. Rev. 192 (2017)