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Harvard researcher's startling findings: Young people open to military rule

A Harvard lecturer says liberal democracy may be at risk all over the world – including in the United States.

“[W]hat we’ve found over the last 15 - 20 years is that it no longer looks like democracy is the only game in town in the way it once was, that a lot of citizens of democratic countries are less satisfied with democracy, they think it’s less important to live in a democracy,” Yascha Mounk told CBSN’s Josh Elliott on Wednesday. “They’re more open to ... alternatives to democracy, including extreme ones, like military rule.”

In Tuesday’s New York Times, Mounk shared some the startling results of his research into feelings toward democracy, including that 1 in 6 Americans now say that military rule would be a “good” or “very good” thing. In 1995, that number was 1 in 16.

Young people, in particular, seem increasingly open to alternatives to democracy, with only 19 percent of millennial Americans saying a military rule would be illegitimate. These trends are also taking hold in Europe, where 36 percent of millennials says a military takeover would be illegitimate, versus 53 percent of older Europeans.

“[Millennials] don’t have experience with fighting against communism, against fascism, so they don’t say that it’s important to them,” Mounk said on CBSN, offering one explanation of why younger people are less enthused about democracy. 

Mounk and co-author Roberto Stefan Foa’s full findings will be published in January’s edition of the Journal of Democracy.