Paper - Harvard Kennedy School

Pro-democracy Organizing against Autocracy in the United States: A Strategic Assessment & Recommendations

| October 2022

Faculty Research Working Paper Series


Many groups in the US are focused on preventing the further rise of authoritarian forces by raising alarms about authoritarian power-grabs in key states; by building financial, legal, and electoral strategies to advocate for democratic practices and outcomes in state and national politics; and by scenario-planning responses to contested election outcomes in 2022 and 2024. This urgent and important work must continue and intensify in the coming months. This report aims to expand the conversation to also prepare for effective organizing and mobilizing in the aftermath of a nationwide authoritarian transition, should one occur after the 2024 election. This report proposes nonviolent resistance strategies and support systems that could be relevant for protecting local communities and subjugated groups, and for informing a broad-based pro-democracy struggle under a hypothetical authoritarian administration. We suggest some immediate investments in infrastructure that could support effective pro-democracy organizing and mobilizing, both today and in the event of authoritarian decline or consolidation across all branches of government. This study was commissioned by Social and Economic Justice Leaders (SEJ).

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Chenoweth, Erica and Zoe Marks. “Pro-democracy Organizing against Autocracy in the United States: A Strategic Assessment & Recommendations.” Paper, RWP22-01, Harvard Kennedy School, October 2022.

The Authors

Erica Chenoweth