Do the populist and nationalist uprisings that led to Donald Trump and Brexit signal Western democracy’s certain decline? Or can recent events be seen as part of a healthy and regenerative antidote to policies that have challenged liberal institutions and marginalized the middle class? Some predict that a resilient liberal world order will rally to triumph over fear, xenophobia and fractured political parties – others say that support for autocratic alternatives is on the rise. Is Western democracy threatening suicide? Arguing for the motion is Bernard-Henri Levy, philosopher and journalist with Yascha Mounk, author of "The People vs. Democracy." Arguing against the motion is Clive Crook, a columnist at Bloomberg View with Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at American Enterprise Institute. John Donvan moderates. This conversation was taped on October 3, 2017.
· Xenophobia, racism, and nationalism are on the rise. From support of far-right candidates in France and Brexit in Europe to the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S., people around the world are embracing policies and attitudes that are inconsistent with liberal democracy.
· The liberal world order is losing ground. Long a beacon of democracy around the world, the United States is turning its back on global institutions and leaving room for alternative powers, such as China and Russia, to seize influence.
· Fed up with economic challenges of globalism and dismayed by the power of the political elite, Westerners are embracing social change over political stability and - increasingly - considering alternatives to elected democratic leadership.
· With his executive orders on immigration, attacks on the free press, condemnation of court decisions, and firing of James Coney, President Donald Trump has challenged democratic traditions and exposed weaknesses in America's political system.
· The populism and nationalism that brought about Donald Trump and Brexit does not pose a threat to liberal democracy. Rather, these events represent the legitimate exercise of power by frustrated voters who feel their nations have gone off-course.
· The Trump administration has strengthened democratic institutions both at home and abroad. Rather than ceding power to an unconventional leader, institutions ranging from global governance organizations to local courts have gained popular support and kept the White House in check.
· A resurgence of far-right ideologues has energized citizens around the world to engage in the democratic process. Through support of establishment political parties and civil society organizations, these citizens are strengthening their democracies and combating the xenophobia and racism that has long been present in their countries and in politics.
Western democracy is not merely defined by American global leadership. America's allies, including France and Germany, are poised to assume the role of safeguards of the liberal world order as the United States turns inward.