“How Democracies Die”, by Levitsky, paints a truly dire picture for American democracy. The current political moment in the United States is feisty to say the very least. Historically, the US has had many contentious moments, including a civil war in the mid 19th century, but Americans powered through. Levitsky makes clear in the book that the keys to a healthy democracy are mutual toleration and institutional forebearance. The ideas that, 1] our political opponents are just patriots who disagree with policy positions and 2) that institutions designed to guide behavior are not mere road blocks to a policy agenda. Both present ominous problems for democracy if missing. For example, if we view our political opponents as existential threats, the costs of losing an election become so immense that “win at all costs” becomes necessary. Many authors have attempted to pin our current political moment on the current President, but that is more partisanship than honest writing. Polarization has been deepening for decades and Donald Trump is a symptom of that, not the cause. For example, current Democratic presidential contenders have picked up rather radical policy proposals like court-packing to combat the clear conservative leanings of the Supreme Court – not exactly institutional forebearance. Moreover, Democratic candidates have used terms like “traitor” and “Russian agent” for the president, further exacerbating the “win at all costs” attitude that erodes a healthy democracy. Ultimately, this is not a Republican or Democrat issue – it’s an American issue. We hate each other more than ever and playing the blame game isn’t exactly bringing everyone together. The problem at hand is one of civility and of social media/media, which so effectively drums up hyperbolic hysteria. How does one curb the poisonous hysteria without infringing on the 1st amendment? My opinion is that American Democracy has always endured because we have had open and free debate – sometimes for years. We did not “block” or “unfriend” those we disagreed with before(we did however sometimes shoot each other, not my point). We must reinvigorate debate in this country and it starts at the top. The answer to any problem is more discussion, not less. Leaders of both parties must stop demonizing one another. Mitt Romney came and gone without ever “putting [African Americans] back in chains” (Looking at you Joe Biden). President Obama was not illegally running for President as a Kenyan (looking at you Sean Hannity). If we demand of our leaders that they respect one another, and punish them with our votes when they don’t, our democracy will recover. Hysteria pays, cable news profits off pure hysteria everyday, but it is our responsibility to turn off the television and start our own conversations with one another.