Concluding Chapter of Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field and Prospects for Reform (Cambridge Press, forthcoming September 2020)
Democratic consolidation around the world currently faces major challenges. Threats to democracy have become more insidious, especially due to the manipulation of legal and constitutional procedures originally designed to guard democracy against arbitrary action and abuse. Free and fair elections, the cornerstone of democratic legitimacy, are under considerable stress from populism and post-truth movements, who abuse new digital communication technologies to confuse and mislead citizens.
The Program on Democracy and the Internet runs the work of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age which will produce guidelines to support democracies, particularly those of the global south.
This report urges policymakers, in both government and the private sector, to act immediately in order to protect the integrity and independence of U.S. elections, particularly in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, and recommends a number of actions in order to do so. This report was distributed at the launch of the new Cyber Policy Center on June 6th, 2019.
In "The American Interest", Nate Persily discusses the challenge of applying current regulatory frameworks to the world of online campaigns and digital technology. Campaign regulations were created for television, but as Citizens United shows, online campaigns will require different constitutional considerations.
According to many commentators, political polarization is at an all-time high in American politics. This volume, edited by Nathaniel Persily, asks leading scholars to weigh in on the nature of polarization, the consequences of polarization, and solutions to polarized discourse and policymaking. While most scholars agree that American politiics is polarized, they disagree on its causes. Is it the changing media landscape? Are voters themselves polarized, or is it decision-makers and political donors who drive ideological extremism?