Defending Democracy

The Common Good presents a very important discussion with Bret StephensNew York Times columnist, Garry Kasparov, Russian dissident and world chess champion, John Avlon, author of Washington’s Farewell and CNN anchor, Philip Bobbitt, constitutional law expert at Columbia University, and Ian Kahn, who plays George Washington on AMC’sTurn.

In our nation and across the globe, democracy is at risk. Leaders from left to right are increasingly alarmed as the central values and norms of liberal democracy are undermined or under outright attack. America struggles with poisonous division and institutional sclerosis, far-right parties are gaining traction in Europe, and Vladimir Putin tightens his authoritarian grip on Russia while subverting democracy abroad. How can we defend and reinvigorate the best of our democratic values and culture?


Philip Bobbitt

Philip C. Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and director for the Center for National Security at Columbia Law School. He is one of the nation’s leading constitutional theorists. Bobbitt’s interests include not only constitutional law but also international security and the history of strategy. The author of eight books, Bobbitt is a former trustee of Princeton University and a former member of the Oxford University Modern History Faculty and the War Studies Department of Kings College, London.

Bobbitt is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is a life member of the American Law Institute; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; the Pacific Council on International Policy; and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London). He is also a member of the Commission on the Continuity of Government. He has served as law clerk to the Honorable Henry J. Friendly; associate counsel to the president; the counselor on international law at the State Department; legal counsel to the Senate Iran-Contra Committee; and senior director for Critical Infrastructure and senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council.

Before joining the Law School’s faculty, Bobbitt was A.W. Walker Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School. He serves on the editorial board of Biosecurity and Bioterrorism. He was the Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School in 2014; the Samuel Rubin Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School in 2007; and the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School in 2005. He serves as a distinguished senior lecturer at the University of Texas.

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov is widely regarded as the greatest chessplayer in history, becoming the youngest world champion ever at 22 in 1985. He retired in 2005 to become a leader of the Russian prodemocracy movement against the rising dictatorship of Vladimir Putin. He is the chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and the founder of the Renew Democracy Initiative. RDI’s essay collection Fight for Liberty came out in October 2018. Kasparov speaks frequently on politics, decision-making, and the human-machine relationship. In 2015, he wrote the prescient book Winter Is Coming: Why Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped. His latest book is Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins. He lives in New York City.

Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens is an op-ed columnist and associate editor for the New York Times. He previously worked for the Wall Street Journal, where he served concurrently as foreign-affairs columnist, deputy editorial page editor and member of the editorial board. Prior to that, he was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, a position he assumed in 2002 at the age of 28. Mr. Stephens has degrees from the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics, as well as three honorary doctorates. Mr. Stephens serves on many advisory boards and is closely associated with the Renew Democracy Initiative, an organization dedicated to the advancement of liberal-democratic ideals in the face of populist authoritarianism. He was raised in Mexico City and lives with his family in New York.

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