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Disunion Among Ourselves: The Perilous Politics of the American Revolution 

Book Tour and Selected Interviews


During his book tour in June-July 2023 and the select podcast and other media interviews hyperlinked below, Dr. Merritt discusses his new book Disunion Among Ourselves: The Perilous Politics of the American Revolution. The book reveals the deep political divisions that almost tore the Union apart during the American Revolution. So fractious were the founders' political fights that they feared the War of Independence might end in disunion and civil war. Instead of disbanding into separate regional confederacies, the founders managed to unite for the sake of liberty and self-preservation. Disunion Among Ourselves helps remind us that the founders overcame far tougher times than our own through commitment to ethical constitutional democracy, compromise, and the perpetuation of the American experiment. 

  1. Eli Merritt on Political Polarization and His Book, Disunion Among Ourselves, CSPAN (56 minutes) 

  2. Live in Washington, D.C., American Revolution Institute (68 minutes)

  3. Live in Boston, Revolutionary Spaces (84 minutes)

  4. Political Divisions From the American Revolution to Today, The Hartmann Report (58 minutes) 

  5. How the United States nearly disunited, The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman (52 minutes) 

  6. Interview with Eli Merritt, The American History Podcast (33 minutes)


Alexander Hamilton's Theory of Democratic Collapse: A President Commences a Demagogue and Ends a Tyrant

Stanford University Haas Center for Public Service


In this conversation with students, moderated by Stanford in Government's Kate Tully, Dr. Merritt presented Alexander Hamilton's theory of democratic collapse. Derived from Hamilton's writings in The Federalist Papers, the theory holds that the keepers of democracy must maintain reliable checks and balances against the rise of demagogues to executive power because, once in high office, intoxicated by that power, demagogues transform into tyrants—"authoritarians" in modern-day parlance—who bring down the very democracy that elected them in order to retain the office. Topics included Hamilton's fear of disunion and civil war in the 1780s, the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the perennial danger posed by demagogues to democracy since ancient Athens, and the need for reforming the U.S. presidential nominating system to make sure a demagogue never again assumes the awesome power of the presidency. 


Book Launch & Second Summit for Democracy 

"How to Save Democracy: Advice and Inspiration from 95 World Leaders" was released on March 14, 2023


In the select podcast and other media interviews hyperlinked below, Dr. Merritt discusses both the book of quotations he edited from the first Summit for Democracy, How to Save Democracy, and the second summit taking place on March 29-30, 2023. Arguing that democracy is threatened internally in the U.S. due to the Big Lie and externally due to the war in Ukraine, he celebrates the second Summit for Democracy as an opportunity not only to counter demagoguery, corruption, authoritarianism, and violence but also to reflect, listen, and learn in the collaborative effort to preserve democracy in the 21st century. Topics include democratic political values, democratic behavioral values, the four cornerstones of democracy, disinformation, the war in Ukraine, and more. Above all, Dr. Merritt emphasizes the educational value of the summits. As Gitanas Nausėda, president of Lithuania, said at the first summit, these gatherings of world democracies are "a wonderful opportunity to grow in our understanding of how democracy works and how tyranny happens" (How to Save Democracy, p. 79). 

  1. Dr. Eli Merritt Wants To Save Democracy, On Democracy With FP Wellman (43 minutes) 

  2. How to Save Democracy with Eli Merritt, IdeaSphere, Public Radio Exchange (29 minutes)

  3. Time to Get Serious: How to Save Democracy, Keeping Democracy Alive with Burt Cohen (59 minutes)

  4. Eli Merritt on How to Save Democracy, The Paul Miller Morning Show (11 minutes) 

  5. On Democracy Lunch Hour, Community Update with Sherman Whitman (30 minutes) 

  6. Dr. Eli Merritt on Fox News Disinformation, On Democracy Short With FP Wellman (1:45 minutes)

  7. Dr. Eli Merritt on Truth and Trust in Elections, On Democracy Short With FP Wellman (36 seconds)


Eli Merritt on the Trump Indictment and Protecting Democracy 

With Steve Scully on POTUS Politics, SiriusXM


In this 17-minute interview with Steve Scully, Dr. Merritt discusses the indictment of former President Donald Trump by a Manhattan grand jury, addressing topics such as the historic significance of the indictment, the preeminence of the unimpeded rule of law, and the perils of disinformation about the rule of law to the present and future stability of American democracy. He argues that citizens, and certainly the leadership of a democracy, must follow Lincoln's counsel given in 1838 to revere the rule of law as the nation's "political religion." Calling on Republican leadership and conservative media to cease their destructive demagoguery and fear-mongering about the rule of law, he argues that Trump must be allowed to have his day in court and further that, in the best tradition of just and free government, the ex-president is innocent until proven guilty.  

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Dr. Eli Merritt

Did We Learn Our Lesson from Donald Trump? (Interview with  Eli Merritt)

The David Pakman Show

In this 15-minute interview Dr. Merritt discusses The Curse of Demagogues with particular emphasis on reforming the presidential nominating system to prevent another demagogue like Donald Trump, from either political party, from entering the presidential lifeline. Topics include the nature of representative government, checks and balances, gatekeepers of democracy, the weakness of American political parties today, interparty compacts, party platforms, the failure of impeachment and conviction powers, ranked choice voting, and the clear need for a Republican Party, or other conservative party, of integrity in American politics. 

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Democracy is a Work in Progress: Dr. Eli Merritt & “The Curse of Demagogues”

The John Howell Show


In this interview with host John Howell, Dr. Merritt discusses the book he edited entitled The Curse of Demagogues: Lessons Learned from the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. In the spirit of the book, he speaks out in favor of representative democracy with strong checks and balances at all levels of politics and government, critically including the presidential nominating system. He argues that it is the responsibility of each political party to counteract its own demagogues. More specifically, parties must empower delegates at national nominating conventions to block candidates who do not pass the fundamental limit test of constitutionalism. As he says in the interview, "No political party should ever put forth a candidate under any circumstances who is not fully committed to free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power." 

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Eli Merritt

Eli Merritt on the Curse of Demagogues

Donna Lyons Speaker Series


In this one hour video Dr. Merritt discusses the book of essays he compiled and edited entitled The Curse of Demagogues: Lessons Learned from the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. A collection of thirty-two essays by twenty-two writers, the book makes the case that the pathway back to a healthy American democracy is for citizens, first, to understand demagogues and, second, to defend against them.

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LA Times Op-Ed: Trump’s Place in History? He is the Supreme American Demagogue

Richard French Live


In this segment Dr. Merritt speaks with Richard French, anchor of the Richard French Live nightly news program, about his Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Trump’s Place in History? He is the Supreme American Demagogue." They discussed what future historians are going to say about Trump, namely that the forty-fifth president's fate in history books is to become first among the cast of dishonored political figures known as "demagogues." Compared with Trump, demagogues like Huey Long and Joseph McCarthy will become footnotes. Trump will be remembered as the first full-blown demagogue in the White House, one who incited seditious violence on the U.S. Capitol — and for little else. 

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Founding Fathers Quoted Often During Trump Impeachment Trials

Richard French Live


In this segment Dr. Merritt speaks with Richard French, anchor of the Richard French Live nightly news program, about his Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled "Would the Founders Convict Trump and Bar Him From Office?" They discussed themes of political courage and political cowardice in the U.S. Senate in the aftermath of Trump's acquittal on February 13, 2021. Most vitally, Dr. Merritt underscored the fundamental premise of the founders of the nation that ethical leadership is the glue that holds a constitutional republic together. The healing of our democracy will require the restoration of such ethical leadership. 


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Political Lessons of the American Revolution for Today

Nomiki Live


In this segment Dr. Merritt discusses his forthcoming book about the American Revolution, Disunion Among Ourselves, notably the grueling politics of the early Congress and the real risks in those founding years of disunion, separate confederacies, and civil war among the states. How did the founders overcome these centrifugal political forces and instead win the war and forge a longstanding constitutional republic based on principles of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness? It was their capacity for transcending distrust and differences to higher purpose and higher ethics—but not only this. Crisis, that is, the alternative of breaking apart into warring separate confederacies, forcibly united them. In this way, crisis and fear of disunion combined with their abilities to cooperate and compromise to preserve a single American constitutional republic. 

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When a Loved One Commits Suicide

Michael Krasny's Forum

KQED/National Public Radio

Michael Krasny’s Forum hosted Dr. Merritt as part of a group discussion on depression, suicide, suicide risk, and coping with grief. He discussed the loss of his mother to suicide when he was a six-year-old child and how it later inspired him to enter the field of psychiatry on a quest for understanding. That quest culminated in Dr. Merritt's publication of book, "Suicide Risk in the Bay Area: A Guide for Families, Physicians, Therapists, and Other Professionals," and a lifelong dedication to educating patients, families, health professionals, and the general public about suicide prevention.  

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Finding Pathways

KCBS Radio 106.9 FM


Just ahead of National Suicide Prevention Week, Dr. Merritt appeared as a co-host with KCBS radio reporter and producer Keith Menconi in an effort to to raise awareness about mental health stigma and the hope of recovery from mental illness. He discussed his book "Suicide Risk in the Bay Area: A Guide for Families, Physicians, Therapists & Other Professionals" against the backdrop of five Bay Area stories of neighbors helping neighbors to overcome mental health challenges. Dr. Merritt provided practical advice for how to start difficult conversations about mental illness and how to navigate the Bay Area’s fragmented mental health care system.

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The Complexities of Suicide Risk

About Health, KPFA 94.1 FM

Dr. Merritt appeared on About Health on KPFA radio with Dr. Esme Shaller and host Rona Renner, RN. Dr. Merritt’s overall message was one of hope: Depression is a treatable illness. He explained how healthy grief proceeds therapeutically to become free of trauma and shame to restore health. A person with depression is not at fault for his or her illness. With persistence and the right care, no matter the degree of biological underpinnings, depression can be transformed into healthy grief free of trauma, shame, guilt, and fear in all cases.

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Pieces of Peace


Susan Santiago’s Pieces of Peace featured an hour-long interview with Dr. Merritt. Over the course of the interview, Dr. Merritt discussed his book "Suicide Risk in the Bay Area: A Guide for Families, Physicians, Therapists, and Other Professionals," including its core themes relating to suicide prevention, suicide stigma, today’s mental health landscape, and approaches to recovery. His main message was "Talk About It." Talking about suicide risk with family members, patients, and colleagues helps to remove the stigma of depression and the stigma of suicidal thoughts and feelings. Healing comes from relationships and "deep emotional talking about it." 

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See more lectures, appearances, and book talks in psychiatry

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