Its Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the Politics of Extremism by Thomas E. MannAcrimony and hyperpartisanship have seeped into every part of the political process. Congress is deadlocked and its approval ratings are at record lows. America’s two main political parties have given up their traditions of compromise, endangering our very system of constitutional democracy. And one of these parties has taken on the role of insurgent outlier; the Republicans have become ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, and ardently opposed to the established social and economic policy regime.
In It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein identify two overriding problems that have led Congress—and the United States—to the brink of institutional collapse. The first is the serious mismatch between our political parties, which have become as vehemently adversarial as parliamentary parties, and a governing system that, unlike a parliamentary democracy, makes it extremely difficult for majorities to act. Second, while both parties participate in tribal warfare, both sides are not equally culpable. The political system faces what the authors call “asymmetric polarization,” with the Republican Party implacably refusing to allow anything that might help the Democrats politically, no matter the cost.
With dysfunction rooted in long-term political trends, a coarsened political culture and a new partisan media, the authors conclude that there is no “silver bullet” reform that can solve everything. But they offer a panoply of useful ideas and reforms, endorsing some solutions, like greater public participation and institutional restructuring of the House and Senate, while debunking others, like independent or third-party candidates. Above all, they call on the media as well as the public at large to focus on the true causes of dysfunction rather than just throwing the bums out every election cycle. Until voters learn to act strategically to reward problem solving and punish obstruction, American democracy will remain in serious danger.
Politics Book Review: It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Colli...
It’s Even Worse Than It Looks
An interesting and depressing overview of the problems in American politics. Even more relevant with the recent Trump shenanigans. For viewers, there is reinforcement that the only dialogue in the country is between polarized left and right, and that the alternative is cynical public relations with no convictions at all. Then consider signing up for my Monday Medley newsletter. It's a collection of fascinating finds from my week, usually about psychology, technology, health, philosophy, and whatever else catches my interest. I also include new articles, book notes, and podcast episodes. High-Level Thoughts An interesting and depressing overview of the problems in American politics.
This is a short, accessible, and comprehensive overview of the current state of polarization and dysfunction in the U. Chapter 1. How did it get to be like this? They basically pin the blame on Newt Gingrich in the late s and his strategy to incorporate parliamentary-type tactics and de-legitimize political opponents. Over the last three decades these strategies have come to be accepted as normal and appropriate. We now live in a world where there is no ideological overlap between the two major parties and where partisans essentially adhere to completely different worldviews and have different standards of what they accept as legitimate, fact, and reality.
See a Problem?
Robert Kaiser reviews it in the Washington Post today, and it turns out that the wonky piece of their diagnosis is one of my favorite hobbyhorses:. The country is squandering its economic future and putting itself at risk because of an inability to govern effectively. Quite so. Parliamentary systems have a particular set of rules and traditions that allow them to function with tight party discipline — chief among them a dedication to scrupulous majority rule. If you try to marry the two, the political system seizes up.