David Runciman is professor of politics at Cambridge University. His books include "The Confidence Trap," a brief, lively history of crises faced by democratic nations, and how those nations handled the challenges. The rise of Donald Trump, and continuing turmoil throughout Europe, have raised anew questions about democracy's vulnerabilities and resilience. Over the course of several days in late April and early May, I interviewed Runciman, via e-mail, about the current perils.
Wilkinson: The democratic "confidence trap" that you describe is more an attitude than a philosophy, a prevailing sense of, "Oh well, this particular problem looks quite serious but we always muddle through, so why panic?"
We only have two real political parties in the U.S., and one is about to nominate Donald Trump for president. Is this a confidence trap -- a case of Republican voters assuming that democracy can bear more strain than it can reasonably be expected to carry?