American democracy is in peril. The nation itself is very nearly in a state of civil war, as evidenced by our polarized electoral politics; our mobilized, passionate, and counterpoised publics; and the contests now roiling among our very branches of government, the fourth estate included. Though many of us talk about this amongst ourselves every day, there have been very few forums at Yale that muster the full weight of our academic expertise on this subject or that offer venues for the urgent conversations that our civic circumstances require. The brewing crisis is not simply a partisan question, but represents a critical convergence of many long- and short-term trends: the erosion of governmental norms; the changing relationship between “public” and “private”; the costs associated with electoral politics; the evolution of the American political party as a cultural form; the imperial presidency and the theory of the unitary executive; weakening norms around the separation of powers; contests and animosities unleashed within the polity following upon the social movements of the 1960s; dramatic shifts in the nation’s economic basis over a generation; and an epistemological crisis nourished by a narrowcast media environment and the competing “realities” of internet boutiques, to name but a few.