Liberals and progressives in the US and elsewhere often speak of defending or restoring liberal democracy. This implies that democracy can be sustained through a series of policy choices, and ignores the problem of the fraught relationship between democracy and capitalism. A historical look at capitalism and democracy, however, shows that the two have been compatible with one another only at certain moments, primarily during the long boom of the post 1945 period in the rich world. This configuration is now coming to an end due to deep structural transformations in the nature of capitalism in which political mechanisms are becoming increasingly decisive in determining the rate of return. The democratic politics of the left must be articulated in relation to these profound changes in the structure of capitalism.