It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism

Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks

Date: May 2012

Duration: 6 hours 44 minutes

Summary:

Acrimony 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.

Here, 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, together with a governance 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 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.

"The phrase 'essential reading' does not begin to get at the importance of this passionate warning by two of our very best political scientists about our nation's capacity to govern itself. Mann and Ornstein sweep aside the timid conventional wisdom to inform Americans that our problems are even worse than we think they are. It is absolutely vital that this book's findings and message enter the consciousness and consciences of journalists, politicians, and citizens who care about the future of our republic."-E. J. Dionne, National Book Award nominee

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  • Anonymous

    This is a great book illustrating the inner workings of our government. The authors discuss how corruption developed from it's seedlings to maturity up to the present Obama elections. They expose the over use of hold & filibusters used by Republicans to hi-jack the Senate to delay any bills from passing even if they wrote the bill simply because democrats agreed with it. They offer interesting solutions to reform funds from Super PACs, Interest groups, and Senate delays that could help Government do it's job better, strengthen checks and balances and restore the American public's approval in the function of government.