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117 Mich. L. Rev. Online 1 (2018-2019)

handle is hein.journals/mlro117 and id is 1 raw text is: 










   THE REPUBLIC IN LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE


                            Richard Primus*



                            INTRODUCTION

    Every system of government  eventually passes away. That's a feature of
the human  condition. The United States has been an unusually stable polity
by the  standards of world civilizations, and for that stability Americans
should be deeply grateful. But no nation is exempt from the basic forces of
history. It is not reasonable to think that the constitutional republic we know
will last forever. The question is when it will meet its end-in our lifetimes,
or in our grandchildren's, or centuries later. Given the stable conditions that
living Americans  were  socialized to expect, the dominant   intuition is
probably something  like A very long time from now, long enough that we
can't imagine what life will be like then. That was my own confident view
until recently, and it may still turn out to be right. But the recognition that
no system of government  lasts forever should make us realize that this one,
too, will one day run its course. Once we face that reality, we can perhaps
think with open minds  about the possibility that the end will come sooner
than we expected.
    Since  President Trump   was  elected, some  serious observers  have
concluded  that the American  Republic  is in serious peril.1 Others have
thought that warnings about the possible fall of the Republic are exaggerated
rhetoric.2 The difference between those perspectives is partly a matter of
people's having different understandings of the Trump Administration. But
it is also partly a function of different views, usually unarticulated, about



    *   Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor, The University of Michigan Law
School. Thanks to Gary Bass, Joey Fishkin, Jamal Greene, Emily Hantverk, Don Herzog, and
Orin Kerr.
     1. See, e.g., STEVEN LEVITSKY & DANIEL ZIBLATT, How DEMOCRACIES DIE (2018);
YASCHA MOUNK, THE PEOPLE V. DEMOCRACY: WHY OUR FREEDOM IS IN DANGER AND HOW
TO SAVE IT (2018).
     2. See Eric Liu, How Donald Trump Is Reviving American Democracy, ATLANTIC (Mar.
8,   2017),   https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/how-donald-trump-is-
reviving-our-democracy/518928/ [https://perma.cc/84BA-7C4P].


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