Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows how the incentives and views of dangerous leaders drive world events. The efficacy of the international community’s response depends on how regimes like Russia’s work. Erica Frantz finds that personalist regimes like Russia are more likely to initiate conflicts and suffer from misperceptions in a close inner circle. Putin’s actions follow authoritarian patterns elsewhere. This conversational edition features research and commentary on the war, the sanctions, the behavior of other regimes like China, the global implications of the rise in personalist authoritarianism, and the direction of research on harder-to-observe countries. 

Guest: Erica Frantz, Michigan State University

Studies: How Dictatorships WorkAuthoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

Matt Grossmann: Putin’s war and personalist authoritarianism, this week on the Science of Politics. From the Niskanen Center, I’m Matt Grossmann.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reminded the world that dangerous leaders still rule key countries and their incentives and misperceptions drive world events. US policy has shifted dramatically to counter Putin, but to understand the efficacy of those actions we have to learn how these kinds of countries and leaders work. Fortunately, political scientists have gained new knowledge of authoritarianism and especially how personalist regimes direct their countries into conflict with others unconstrained by global institutions. This week, I talked to my Michigan State University colleague, Erica Frantz, on a special conversational edition of the podcast. She is co-author with Joseph Wright and Barbara Geddes of the Cambridge book, How Dictatorships Work: Power, Personalization, and Collapse and author of the Oxford book, Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know. She finds that personalist regimes are more likely to initiate conflicts and suffer from misperceptions in a closed inner circle. Putin’s action follow patterns elsewhere. We talk about the war, the sanctions, the behavior of other regimes like China, the global implications of the rise in personalist authoritarianism and the direction of research. Here’s our conversation.

So tell us about your research on personal dictatorships. What are they?

Erica Frantz: Personalist dictatorships are dictatorships for power is concentrated in the hands of the leader. So we can look to power dynamics between leaders and their support groups to get a sense of levels of personalism. In some dictatorships the support groups a military, in other dictatorships it’s a political party. Where power dynamics are tilted in favor of the leader, vis-a-vie either the military or the party, we would label it a personalized dictatorship. So classic examples would be Idi Amin of Uganda or Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Matt Grossmann: What are the key things that cause countries to develop personalist dictatorships and why are they on the rise?

Erica Frantz: That is an important question given that, as you mentioned, we’ve noted that personalist dictatorships are on the rise. At the end of the Cold War only about a quarter of the worlds dictatorships were personalist, and then if you fast forward to the last year or two we’ve seen a big increase where about four 40% of the world’s dictatorships are personalist. So we can certainly point to geopolitical dynamics as important here where the end of the Cold War led to kind of a dismantling of the traditional authoritarian system, there was no longer as much external support for communist parties, let’s say. We also saw a reduction in external support for military professionalization. So both of those things we think probably played a role. But in the end, that answer to that question is somewhat a hole in the literature.

We have a good sense of the factors that help predict a personalist dictatorship. So for example, recent research has shown that when leaders come to power supported by groups that are somewhat fractured or weak, we’re going to be more likely to see personalization in the years to come. So for example, if you have a seizure of power that is a junior officer led military coup, that’s a really good indicator that we’re going to see personalism. Because a junior officer leading a coup generally reflects a military that’s not very well organized or professionalized. At the same time if you see a leader come to power or seize power backed by a party, a political party that is pretty weak, oftentimes we see this when the leader has recently created a political party, that is also a good indicator that we’re going to see personalism. A nice example there would be Hugo Chavez in Venezuela who created this movement, essentially just as a springboard for his own political career.

When we see that sort of thing happening at the time of the seizure of power, these groups are just unlikely to be able to push back at the leader’s efforts to consolidate control. Over time we also see that personalization begets more personalization. So that power concentration is just going to be more likely to intensify as the years of the leader’s tenure progress.

Matt Grossmann: And what about consequences, why are these regimes so dangerous?

Erica Frantz: This is the major reason why we should care that there’s been this huge uptick in personalist dictatorship. The overwhelming message that comes out of the research is that personalist dictatorships are bad and not just for the domestic outcomes, not just for the quality of life that of the citizens who rule under them but also for the international community. So domestically, personalist dictatorships are more likely to be corrupt, they’re more likely to repress their citizens, they’re more likely to govern over periods of economic disaster, all sorts of negatives come with this concentration of power. This is precisely because there aren’t any actors at home who can hold these leaders accountable for poor choices and constrain them.

Then in the international arena, this is all playing out before our eyes right now with what’s happening with the Russian war on Ukraine. In that, personalized dictatorships are more likely to be aggressive in their foreign policy. They’re more likely to make foreign mistakes. They’re also more likely to ratchet up disputes and dig their heels in. A lot of the reasons why is that, again, they don’t face much accountability at home so they can engage in these risky and adventurous foreign policy efforts without fearing that there’s going to be a domestic backlash, like some of their counterparts might face in a more collegial form of authoritarianism. And then I can get into the dynamics related to their inner circle, but they often make these unwise choices because they have purged any individuals who might tell them the truth about things, they might provide some insight that, oh, maybe this is a bad idea. So instead we see a bunch of yes men in these regimes.

Matt Grossmann: So how well does Putin fit with this model of personalist dictators and how well do his recent actions fit in with what would be expected? Is there anything the research can tell us about what he might hope to gain or why he’s so immune to the consequences?

Erica Frantz: Yeah. The sad part is that all of his behaviors are completely in line with what the research says about personalist rule. Now on some levels, the decision to wage this intense of a form of aggression caught most of the world by surprise. But, if we follow the research and international relations on personalism suggests that they are the most likely to initiate conflicts with other states, they are particularly likely to get into conflicts with democracies, they’re more likely to make unwise forum policy choices. All of the evidence suggests that this was a huge miscalculation on the part of Putin, and it really reflects the fact that the information environment in his regime is poor. And again, this is consistent with what the research shows about this particular form of authoritarianism.

The important thing to note too, is that personal dictators are often really unpredictable in their behaviors. So when trying to anticipate what Putin is going to do, or what other personalist authoritarians are likely to do in the years to come, the major message is that they’re unpredictable. So one positive of personalism is that because these leaders don’t face many constraints at home, they don’t have to be quite as concerned with saving face. So we could be potentially more likely to see a large departure from a stated foreign policy goal in personalist dictatorships, more so than in other regimes.

But, that said, because they surround themselves by individuals who provide them with poor information they tend to become more paranoid over time. They tend to become more distrustful of the elites who are around them, precisely because of the fact that they’ve gotten rid of anyone who has spoken truthfully about things. So you get this information environment that is really toxic, where there’s a lot of uncertainty and so we see a lot of unpredictable behaviors, often things that we might label as irrational. I am not really persuaded by the idea that there’s certain personalities that are going to be more likely to do these things. Rather, these guys are a product of the environment that they created, which is going to foster uncertainty, paranoia, and so forth.

So in terms of what’s going to happen next in Russia, there are a lot of indicators that Putin is going to double down precisely because he isn’t necessarily receiving great information from people who could weigh in accurately about the situation. And because to the extent that he doesn’t face any pushback from within the elite and from below, he would be likely to of the course. So far all signs are pointing towards an intensification of the conflict.

Matt Grossmann: And what about the international response, is this how the other countries usually respond to personalist dictators? Are there signs from the research about whether that international response will be effective? Whether sanctions are effective against personalist dictators or how they’ll respond to adversaries being helped from outside militarily.

… stories being helped from outside militarily?

Erica Frantz: On the one hand, the decision to do this brazen active aggression in Ukraine caught the world by surprise. But I think it’s also caught the world by surprise how concerted and broad the international response has been to the war.

We are not used to seeing sanctions of this sort. We’re used to seeing sanctions that are kind of a slap on the wrist and somewhat ineffective. Instead, largely because of the brazenness of the decision to wage this war, there is broad support for punishing Russia and the Russian elite for this act.

And the research does show that sanctions are more likely to be effective when they target personalist dictatorships. And that’s because this specific type of authoritarianism relies on a very narrow group of individuals to stay afloat. Not to say that ordinary citizens don’t matter, but that really politics is happening at this elite level.

And to the extent that sanctions can target members of Putin’s inner circle, which thus far it appears that they’re trying to do, then this could put the squeeze on Putin and potentially lead to pressures that will eventually lead to his ouster.

I would like to add the caveat, though, that oil wealth can kind of distort some of these things because oil rich places like Russia give dictators, personalist dictators, extra avenues for revenues. Everything related to fuel and fuel exports and so forth and decisions to cut off the Russian regime from national resource revenue will be particularly important to look at.

Matt Grossmann: Are we learning anything about other autocracies from this conflict? I noticed that Turkey and Hungary, some autocratizing countries, have condemned the war, but maybe the overall international alignment is still autocracies more likely to defend others. Anything we could say about that?

Erica Frantz: It’s really tempting to say that there’s this club of autocracies, and they’re all on the same team. But the truth is we don’t really know that much about how these different regimes align with each other. In some instances, they seem to all be on the same page and against the West and liberal democracy. But in other instances, they don’t behave in predictable ways.

And I think at the core, these governments, like all governments, are going to do what’s in their own strategic interests and political interests. So if it’s in the regime’s interest for there to be global stability, then they’re going to be reluctant to embrace Putin’s action because it’s going to destabilize the world both in terms of the violence it creates, but also for the economic consequences. So if these leaders don’t see it as in their interest to support Putin’s venturism, then they’re going to have more of a muted response.

But we’re also seeing some interesting democracies not doing much. India is the one that comes to mind. So I think it’s these economic and political interests really outweigh everything else in terms of values and support for any one particular model of political rule.

The other thing that kind of is important to mention is that we also talk about China and Russia trying to export their model of authoritarianism, but there, the picture’s also pretty complicated because in some instances, particularly with China, the things that it’s exporting are in its financial interest.

So a lot of digital technologies, for example, that could be used to help other dictatorships model the Chinese form of authoritarianism, well, it’s in China’s interest to continue to sell these products because it helps them economically.

So it’s very tricky to disentangle motivations, and that’s why I’m somewhat reluctant to say that, okay, just because these two regimes are personalist, they’re going to be jumping on board with each other. Personalist leaders make for very unpredictable partners in general, so I think that it’s very difficult to say with any certainty that that would be what would be going on.

Matt Grossmann: So let’s dig into that a little bit more because people are seeing this as perhaps lessons for China and Taiwan. To what degree is China a personalist regime and what are the similarities and differences that might impact their relationship and the similarity of their actions?

Erica Frantz: So China has traditionally been led by a dominant party since Mao and the Chinese Communist Party. And the overall model there has tended to be one of more collegial decision making. We don’t see leaders govern forever there. They tend to have a process of succession. Since Xi Jinping came to power, China has moved in a different direction and some would say has returned to the Mao era of governing style.

And consistent with the research, as power has grown more personalist under Xi Jinping, we’ve seen more repression, and we’ve also seen more foreign policy venturism. So all of the negatives that we typically associate with personalism, we’re starting to see signs of in China.

However, it’s important to note that the levels of personalism today in China do not compare to what we see in Putin’s Russia. So it is certainly the case that concentration of power has happened, but it’s not to the same degree as in some of these other truly personalist contexts.

So the positive there is that the evidence suggests that we would see more predictable behavior coming out of the PRC than in more of a concentrated Putin-esque type of situation, which means that there should be a greater opportunity for predictable decision making.

And looking to China’s posturing to towards Taiwan, we would expect that there might be some learning happening here that these sorts of foreign policy decisions that sacrifice the integrity of these locations would be met with a harsh response.

Now, to be clear, if China were to grow more aggressive in its positioning toward Taiwan, I don’t think it would even come close to the sorts of aggression we’ve seen with Russia towards Ukraine. And really, it was the brazenness of this decision that led to this huge backlash and international sanctioning.

So we have to be careful in terms of the types of foreign policy venturism we would be looking at. In general, though, my sense is that this is a pivotal moment for global politics in that all the world’s watching. And everyone wants to know, if a dictator behaves in this way, what’s going to happen?

And from my perspective, the overwhelming message has been that a lot is going to happen and that the international community can unite in ways that push back against this form of aggression. So, to me, it was very important that we saw this sort of response, and that it’s going to send a very powerful message to all of the world. Everybody’s paying attention. So, to me, that’s one positive that’s come out of this.

Matt Grossmann: So Russia has also cracked down on all remaining independent media and has a strong state media apparatus and is building one sort of all over the world. It was building one. How similar is that to other personalist dictatorships, and what role does it play?

Erica Frantz: So dictators since the end of the Cold War have been trying more and more so to mimic democracies, and there are many reasons for doing so. One is that it’s a lot easier to rule with a subtle hand than with a heavy one. There are fewer costs to pay.

So for some time in Putin’s Russia, there has been somewhat more of an open media environment. They’ve had opposition groups that have been able to voice their views to a limited degree. Over time, however, we’ve been seeing that space restricted. And then, particularly right now, there’s been a huge effort to silence any independent media.

Now, this could come back to bite because I heard today whispers that the Russian government was shutting down Instagram, for example. All of these things that ordinary Russians rely on in their daily life, they’re going to make a note of it when suddenly this is restricted.

And the reason why that matters is that it’s true that these regimes don’t need tons of popular support to maintain power. But if we have this perfect storm of elite fissures, international pressures, and mass discontent because the information space has grown so closed, then this could lead to Putin’s ouster.

The knee-jerk response is going to be, okay, if there’s public criticism to me, I’m going to shut down that space. But that can be a very risky strategy for dictators because it can lead to a backlash that is not anticipated.

Matt Grossmann: So you also wrote the book Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know. So what does everyone need to know?

Erica Frantz: First of all, that is part of a series called What Everyone Needs to Know. I’m not proclaiming that I know everything about authoritarianism. But in that book-

… everything about authoritarianism, but in that book, that book is really geared towards a more general audience, and one of the major messages is that authoritarianism has changed quite a bit since the end of the Cold War, which is something I already talked about, where today’s dictatorships really are trying to mimic democracies, and at least Spain, some sort of more open and participatory environment. That is consequential for a number of reasons. One is that sometimes observers can get fooled into thinking that a country has a democracy when it’s not, and all of the positive outcomes that we might associate with democracy are just not going to be precedent in those contexts. It also has really challenged democracy promotion efforts because the research shows that this effort to feign democracy ends up prolonging authoritarian survival.

So there’s a lot of research that shows that the dictatorships that do these things, that have multi-party elections and that allow opposition groups to have some limited political influence, actually last in power longer than those that just use brute force to stay afloat. Okay, so this makes it difficult for observers to know whether these indicators of political liberalization are more open in participatory environment. We don’t know whether those are actually true signs of efforts to move towards democracy, or if they’re indicators of a savvy authoritarian regime. So this development has really complicated democracy promotion because it’s very difficult from an outsider’s perspective to know whether we’re really seeing authoritarian entrenchment or some sort of sign of political opening.

Matt Grossmann: What about Western political elites? Are there things they still don’t know about authoritarianism or personalism that they should, if you had five minutes with Biden or Macron or Johnson, what do they need to know?

Erica Frantz: I think that this latest foreign policy crisis has really told the world a lot about personalism, and it’s unfortunate that it took something like this for it to happen. But scholars have been sounding the alarm bell for the last couple of years, that personalism is on the rise. The general message is that I mentioned this earlier, but personalists are not predictable partners. It’s tempting to label their behaviors as irrational or crazy, but as I mentioned, also, they really are a product of their environment. So the one thing to know about personalists is that they are very unpredictable. The levels of uncertainty are very high, and you cannot assume that they have access to accurate information about themselves, about their military forces, about public sentiment. It’s tempting to think that they do, but they often have very limited and distorted information channels.

The other thing that I would note is that personalism is also increasing in democracies. The authoritarian politics world and the personalization of politics world and democracies, those two literatures have really been divorced from each other. But we’re starting to see more of a synergy between those two fields, which is really important given that personalism and democracies, when we see leaders supported by parties that basically exist to promote their own candidacy, is also harmful for a variety of outcomes. So to the extent that we can pay attention to this dynamic and democracies, I think it will also be important in helping to reverse the contemporary back siding wave.

Matt Grossmann: How about implications for specific policy decisions that are being made now about how to arm Ukraine, about whether to expand SWIFT sanctions to other banks, things like that. Are there lessons that are actionable right now?

Erica Frantz: Well, I’m not a military expert, so I’m not totally sure about what the best military response would be. Overwhelmingly, it seems like a direct confrontation with Russia through something like a no-fly zone would be a bad choice. The best response would be to help Ukraine externally. I mentioned this, but this is a really big moment for the world, and not only in terms of protecting Ukrainians, but also for sending a signal about resolve, about the alliances resolved to protect democracy, about what the consequences are for this sort of behavior.

So to the extent that the West can provide Ukraine with as much military assistance as possible, that to me seems really important. The same thing is true with the sanctions. So as the sanctions have been far greater than most observers would’ve anticipated. Sticking to this is going to be particularly important, and also, as much as it’s going to be very difficult for domestic audiences to swallow, we really need to cut off Russian revenue from natural resources. It’s going to lead to higher gas prices. It’s going to have ripple effects throughout the global economy, but that is really going to be pivotal to really put the squeeze on the Russian elite and create some more fissures so that they can no longer tolerate Putin in office and so that we might see him pushed out.

Matt Grossmann: You mentioned this as a potential turning point for the future military endeavors. What about these broader trends that you’ve mentioned towards we’re having more autocratizing than democratizing countries, and we’re seeing increased personalization. If we look back 10 or 15 years from now to this, will we see it as a potential change in those trends?

Erica Frantz: There are very few indicators that this tide is going to reverse course, and scholars are kind of scrambling to catch up and figure out what’s going on. I’m working on a book project right now where we’re looking at levels of personalism and democracy, and all the evidence suggests that it elevates the risk of democratic backsliding and collapse. So one of the messages that seems to be coming out of all these literatures is that when leaders bargain or operate with support groups that are fractured and poorly institutionalized, that it enables concentration of power. An implication would be that party building is important, and party building has been challenged in the new digital era where politicians no longer need these well-organized parties to win office. They can just go to social media. So any efforts to kind of address that challenge, I think will be pretty important.

I point to El Salvador as kind of the classic case of what we’re likely to see of in the years to come where the leader Bukele just created this Nuevas Ideas Movement. It only exists to promote his candidacy and help him win office. He used social media extensively to get his brand out. Now we’re seeing concentration of power occur under his, because that party, this movement doesn’t really have any capacity or incentive to push back against an executive power grab. So those are the things I think we should be attuned to, and researchers in particular need to dedicate more efforts to trying to better understand some of these underlying dynamics.

Matt Grossmann: So catch us up on the sort of revolutionary in research on autocracies. We used to think that it was very difficult to collect any meaningful data, but it seems like we’re collecting more and more across the world. So how did that happen, and what is it telling us?

Erica Frantz: Well, on the one hand, some of these authoritarian systems did open up a little bit, and since the end of the Cold War, we don’t see as many North Koreas anymore. We see more and more so regimes like Venezuela or Russia. So that has opened up abilities for scholars to research political dynamics in these systems that said it still remains a risky task. Occasionally, from time to time, we do hear of academics being arrested by authoritarian governments, and so forth. So it’s definitely not the case that it’s totally safe, but that opening has enabled better data collection efforts and so forth. We also have improved in terms of data. So there was observable data that existed, but scholars were just not that interested in authoritarian politics until like the last 15 years or so. Now, we’ve seen a big explosion where authoritarian politics is a large field in comparative.

So we have data sets that measure easily observable things like, does an opposition party exist? Are elections regularly help? But we really lack some of the more nuanced data that we need. I’m hoping that in the years to come, graduate students that are doing their dissertation work get more involved in some of the fine-tuned data collection efforts. That would be valuable, particularly with respect to things like civil society organizations and elite identity. We don’t totally know who some of the elites are in dictatorships. We don’t know numbers in terms of the size of their support groups and all sorts of little fine-tuned information that I think could really advance the field.

Matt Grossmann: So we also just had an intervention from the Old Guard, right? With John Mearsheimer, claiming that Putin was indicative of old realism and predictable. So give us a sense of how theories have changed also in political science. Are we still in sort of framework wars or have we moved on?

Erica Frantz: Well…

Matt Grossmann: Have we moved on?

Erica Frantz: Well, I mean, I think… Are we in framework wars? I think that in terms of way in which we think about politics, it was pretty clear that during the cold war that there were kind of predictable modes of behavior and that everything changed since. The question is from my perspective, as someone who looks at authoritarian politics, are we in the middle of a reversion back to that cold war sort of state? And by that, I mean there are some subtle indicators that dictatorships are moving away from this pseudo democratic style that I just talked about that we’ve seen over the last 30 years or so, where brute force is something that they think is going to be tolerable. And again, we were seeing a lot of that in Russia and my colleagues and I were wondering, okay, are we going to start seeing more iron fists here in autocratic environments?

And are they going to be able to get away with it? So again, this just kind of points back to this moment right now being so pivotal in terms of what happens next for Putin and whether there’s a solid signal that brute force domestically and overseas is not palatable to audiences, both within dictatorships and within democracies. There’s a lot of questioning of whether there’s been a tide of citizens no longer trusting democracy and no longer viewing it as valuable. And I’m somewhat suspicious of some of these finding, but it is a big moment for the global community to demonstrate that democracy can deliver. And that there are a lot of risks and costs associated with authoritarianism

Matt Grossmann: And what still don’t we know about authoritarianism and what are the most important questions for me?

Erica Frantz: Oh, there’s so much we don’t know. There’s so much we don’t know. I talked about this idea that there’s a narrative in academia and in the mainstream media that China and Russia were trying to export their model of authoritarianism. That’s a big question mark to me, and it would be a nice area of future research to better understand efforts to diffuse specific models of authoritarianism. To what extent are we seeing intentional activities to try to spread authoritarianism? Another area of future research I think has to do with the extent to which public opinion influences authoritarian politics. My sense is that it really plays very little role, but we don’t really have a very good understanding of some of these relationships and the ways in which mass sentiments interact with elite politics to influence outcomes in dictatorships.

Matt Grossmann: And what should we be looking for in the days ahead in Russia for signs that regime might be changing?

Erica Frantz: What is going on at the top level, particularly with members of the security apparatus? So are there any indicators of discontent? We’ve seen a little bit of it more than normal in Putin’s Russia, where a handful of very influential Russians have said subtle things that indicate that they don’t think this was a good choice.

So to the extent that this continues to spread, that these indicators continue to surface, I think that’s very important. And again, I mentioned, we’ve seen a couple of elites outside of the security apparatus indicate that they didn’t think this was the greatest choice. So are we going to see that within the apparatus? That to me is a big focal point. I’ve heard some rumors that there’s been some activity within the security forces with some influential members being put on house arrest and so forth. Those things are unverified, but that to me is a big focal point.

Matt Grossmann: And what about in the post Soviet world more broadly? Are there big trends in personalization or democratization and any signs that may be trending in one direction?

Erica Frantz: We have seen a rising tide of personalism and democracies and in dictatorships. And I don’t see any indicators that this is going into reverse course, even should Putin come out of this looking like a big failure and this decision appearing really unwise. I don’t think that’s going to ebb this movement towards weak organizations and concentration of power. However, I think it does send a message. It has the potential to have ripple effects throughout the region, particularly in places like Belarus, which has kind of been propped up by and recently actually has cozy up with Russia as well as other places where Putin has tried to exert influence. If his regime unravel, than some of the longstanding authoritarians in Central Asia have the potential to be very vulnerable as well.

Matt Grossmann: So what’s next for you? I think you mentioned you’re working on personalism and in democracy. So what are the biggest trends there that we should know about or anything else you want to tap?

Erica Frantz: The big trend is that leaders are increasingly getting elected in democracies, backed by parties that they created. And the general message is that this is harmful for executive constraints and eventually for democratic governance. So better understanding why this is happening is really at the forefront of my mind right now. And we don’t really have a strong sense. It’s mainly just what are people’s gut instinct? So to the extent that we can better understand some of these driving forces of personalism and democracies, I think that’ll be very consequential and important for reversing the current wave. So that’s what’s on my mind.

Matt Grossmann: And this sort of crossing over between international relations and comparative politics, how typical has that been in the field and what are the gains from, I guess, those sets of researchers talking more to each other?

Erica Frantz: To the extent that researchers can talk to one another, it is a good thing. And it has led to some really interesting research in the world of authoritarian politics, where we have a number of scholars that have done some really important work on how different types of dictatorships behave in the conflict arena, for example. And so to the extent that those sorts of synergies can continue, I think it will be a real positive for political science. I already mentioned that there’s a lot of opportunities for researchers who do work on personalism in democracies, like in political campaigns and in the media landscape. There’s a lot of potential for those researchers to start engaging with those of us who do work on the dynamics of political change to help us all better make sense of what’s happening. So yeah, to the extent that we can bridge these divides, that’s a good thing.

Matt Grossmann: There’s a lot more to learn. The Science of Politics is available biweekly from the [inaudible 00:37:45] Center and part of the Democracy Group Network. I’m your host, Matt Grossman. If you like this episode, I would recommend these prior episodes, US Democratic Decline In Comparative Perspective, How Debt Finance Leads to War and Deficit Spending, Does the Public Respond to Threats to Democracy, the Role of Political Science In American Life, and When Partisans Endorse Violence. Thanks to Erica France for joining me. Please check out How Dictatorships Work and Authoritarianism: What Everyone Needs To Know, and then listen in next time.

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