Why has democratic governance declined, at least in the Anglo-American world? This essay maps the causes. It starts with the major parties, once basic agents of mass mobilisation and representation. It argues that a cascading series of developments, often involving contingent adjustments to immediate exigencies, have, in a longer perspective, created a fundamental gap between the political system and its publics. A second section then sketches paths to democratic renewal. How might this gap be closed? What other changes might be required to make this a reality? Are prospects of change fanciful?