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For reasons that I will explain in class, I am dedicating this lecture to my father, who was born on March 29th and was one of the “star” professors at the Women’s Institute for many years. If anyone stamped into my DNA the hopefulness, messiness, and great fragility endemic in democracy, it was him. If anyone stamped into my DNA the need to educate myself about – and to push back against – the destroyers of democracy, it was him. Drawing from relevant 20th-century examples to discuss how fragile democracy is and why, as well as present-day concerns about the health of our American political experiment, I hope we make him proud.Irene Guenther, Ph.D.