The 2016 U.S. Election: Can Democracy Survive the Internet?

Issue Date April 2017
Volume 28
Issue 2
Page Numbers 63-76
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The 2016 presidential election represents the latest chapter in the disintegration of the legacy institutions that had set bounds for U.S. politics in the postwar era. It is tempting (and in many ways correct) to view the Donald Trump campaign as unprecedented in its breaking of established norms of politics. Yet this type of campaign could only be successful because established institutions—especially the mainstream media and political-party organizations—had already lost most of their power, both in the United States and around the world. The void that these eroding institutions left was filled by an unmediated populist nationalism tailor-made for the Internet age.

About the Author

Nathaniel Persily is James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.

View all work by Nathaniel Persily