Democracy in Question: Democratic Openness in a Time of Political Closure

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This book explores the theoretical paradoxes and practical dilemmas that flow from the still radical idea that in a democracy it is the people who rule, and argues that accepting the open and uncertain character of democratic politics can lead to more sustainable and widespread forms of democratic engagement. The author engages theorists from a range of democratic thought-Rousseau, Arendt, Benhabib, Sandel, Laclau, and Mouffe-to show how each either ignores or downplays the difficulties that democratic principles pose. Though there can be no entirely valid solution to the paradoxes that plague democracy, the author nonetheless argues that democratic politics-particularly under contemporary conditions of social fragmentation and insecurity-urgently requires new practical and rhetorical strategies. The book concludes by addressing the American context, elaborating the need for a language of democratic engagement less ensnared in the anti-political logic of moralism and resentment that now characterizes the American political spectrum.