This book explores the critical role of dissent in American democracy. It argues that dissent has been with us since the earliest efforts to form a democratic politics and that the first struggles over the meaning of the original Constitution were ultimately struggles over the place of dissent in democracy. It analyzes some of the earliest theories of dissent in American democracy and compares them with current democratic theory, which it contends has offered little guidance in thinking deeply about the nature and place of dissent. Drawing on real and proposed institutions as well as philosophical constructs, the book considers and substantiates a theory of what it calls “dissentient democracy”—a democracy that values dissent as an essential core element.
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