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We often use the terms democracy and liberal democracy interchangeably, but they're not the same thing. Democracy means majority rule and public participation. Liberal democracy means democracy plus minority rights. There's no guarantee that democracy will be liberal. And in fact, some of the same things that enable democracy can also undermine its liberal commitments.
Zac Gershberg, a professor of journalism and media studies at Idaho State University and Sean Illing, the host of the Vox Conversations podcast, have recently released a new book, The Paradox of Democracy: Free Speech, Open Media, and Perilous Persuasion.
In the book, they argue that every democracy is fundamentally shaped by the dominant media technology of its time. And that the current landscape of social media and cable news fuels our democracy, but also pushes it in an illiberal authoritarian direction. Alan Rozenshtein spoke with Zac and Sean about how American democracy got to this point, how the present compares to the past, and what, if anything, can be done to put liberal democracy on firmer footing.