Party Lines: Competition, Partisanship, and Congressional Redistricting

Brookings Institution Press
2
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The legitimacy of the American electoral system depends on sustaining reasonable levels of fairness, accountability, responsiveness, and common sense. Recent Congressional elections fly in the face of those requirements, however, with a startling lack of competition, growing ideological polarization, and a fierce struggle between the parties to manipulate the electoral rules of the game. Party Lines addresses these problems head on in an authoritative and timely analysis of redistricting in the United States. The practice of state legislatures redrawing district lines after the decennial census has long been a controversial aspect of our governing system. Recent developments have added new urgency to earlier debates. The sorry spectacle of mid-decade partisan gerrymandering in Texas renewed public attention to the potential problems of redistricting, reinforcing the view that it is unfairly dominated by self-serving elected officials and parties. The perfunctory character of Congressional elections is another growing problem—in 2002, only four House incumbents were defeated in the general election, the lowest in American history. Despite a hotly contested presidential contest in 2004, that number increased by only three. In Pa rty Lines, eminent political analysts explain the legal and political history of redistricting since the one person–one vote revolution in the 1960s and place it in the larger context of American politics. The authors document the impact of redistricting on competition, polarization, and partisan fairness, and they assess the role technology played in the redistricting process. The final chapter analyzes options for reform, including most importantly the use of independent redistricting commissions as an alternative to the normal state legislative process. Redistricting reform is no panacea but it is a start toward ensuring that American voters still have the largest say in who will represent them. Contributors include Micah Altman (Harvard Universtity), Bruce Cain and Karin MacDonald (University of California, Berkeley),Cherie Maestas (Texas Tech), Sandy Maisel (Colby College), Thomas Mann (Brookings), Michael McDonald (George Mason University), Nathaniel Persily (University of Pennsylvania ), and Walter Stone (University of California, Davis).
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About the author

Thomas E.Mann is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he holds the W. Averell Harriman Chair. He is a frequent media commentator on American politics. Bruce E. Cain is Heller Professor of Political Science at the University of California–Berkeley and director of the UC Washington Center. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 31, 2008
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Pages
125
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ISBN
9780815797920
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
Political Science / Political Process / Political Parties
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The Framers adopted ten constitutional amendments, called the Bill of Rights, that would preserve individual rights and state authority. Levin lays forth eleven specific prescriptions for restoring our founding principles, ones that are consistent with the Framers’ design. His proposals—such as term limits for members of Congress and Supreme Court justices and limits on federal taxing and spending—are pure common sense, ideas shared by many. They draw on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers—including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and numerous lesser-known but crucially important men—in their content and in the method for applying them to the current state of the nation.

Now is the time for the American people to take the first step toward reclaiming what belongs to them. The task is daunting, but it is imperative if we are to be truly free.
#1 New York Times bestselling author and radio host Mark R. Levin delivers a "bracing meditation” (National Review) on the ways our government has failed the next generation.

In modern America, the civil society is being steadily devoured by a ubiquitous federal government. But as the government grows into an increasingly authoritarian and centralized federal Leviathan, many parents continue to tolerate, if not enthusiastically champion, grievous public policies that threaten their children and successive generations with a grim future at the hands of a brazenly expanding and imploding entitlement state poised to burden them with massive debt, mediocre education, waves of immigration, and a deteriorating national defense.

Yet tyranny is not inevitable. In Federalist 51, James Madison explained with cautionary insight the essential balance between the civil society and governmental restraint: “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

This essential new book is, against all odds, a likeminded appeal to reason and audacity—one intended for all Americans but particularly the rising generation. Younger people must find the personal strength and will to break through the cycle of statist manipulation, unrelenting emotional overtures, and the pressure of groupthink, which are humbling, dispiriting, and absorbing them; to stand up against the heavy hand of centralized government, which if left unabated will assuredly condemn them to economic and societal calamity.

Levin calls for a new civil rights movement, one that will foster liberty and prosperity and cease the exploitation of young people by statist masterminds. He challenges the rising generation of younger Americans to awaken to the cause of their own salvation, asking: will you acquiesce to a government that overwhelmingly acts without constitutional foundation—or will you stand in your own defense so that yours and future generations can live in freedom?
Congress is the first branch of government in the American system, write Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, but now it is a broken branch, damaged by partisan bickering and internal rancor. The Broken Branch offers both a brilliant diagnosis of the cause of Congressional decline and a much-needed blueprint for change, from two experts who understand politics and revere our institutions, but believe that Congress has become deeply dysfunctional. Mann and Ornstein, two of the nations most renowned and judicious scholars of government and politics, bring to light the historical roots of Congress's current maladies, examining 40 years of uninterrupted Democratic control of the House and the stunning midterm election victory of 1994 that propelled Republicans into the majority in both House and Senate. The byproduct of that long and grueling but ultimately successful Republican campaign, the authors reveal, was a weakened institution bitterly divided between the parties. They highlight the dramatic shift in Congress from a highly decentralized, committee-based institution into a much more regimented one in which party increasingly trumps committee. The resultant changes in the policy process--the demise of regular order, the decline of deliberation, and the weakening of our system of checks and balances--have all compromised the role of Congress in the American Constitutional system. Indeed, Speaker Dennis Hastert has unabashedly stated that his primary responsibility is to pass the president's legislative program--identifying himself more as a lieutenant of the president than a steward of the house. From tax cuts to the war against Saddam Hussein to a Medicare prescription drug benefit, the legislative process has been bent to serve immediate presidential interests and have often resulted in poorly crafted and stealthily passed laws. Strong majority leadership in Congress, the authors conclude, led not to a vigorous exertion of congressional authority but to a general passivity in the face of executive power. A vivid portrait of an institution that has fallen far from the aspirations of our Founding Fathers, The Broken Branch highlights the costs of a malfunctioning Congress to national policymaking, and outlines what must be done to repair the damage.
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER

A call to action from three of Washington's premier political scholar-journalists, One Nation After Trump offers the definitive work on the threat posed by the Trump presidency and how to counter it.

American democracy was never supposed to give the nation a president like Donald Trump. We have never had a president who gave rise to such widespread alarm about his lack of commitment to the institutions of self-government, to the norms democracy requires, and to the need for basic knowledge about how government works. We have never had a president who raises profound questions about his basic competence and his psychological capacity to take on the most challenging political office in the world.

Yet if Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses, the citizen activism he has inspired is the antidote. The reaction to the crisis created by Trump’s presidency can provide the foundation for an era of democratic renewal and vindicate our long experiment in self-rule.

The award-winning authors of One Nation After Trump explain Trump’s rise and the danger his administration poses to our free institutions. They also offer encouragement to the millions of Americans now experiencing a new sense of citizenship and engagement and argue that our nation needs a unifying alternative to Trump’s dark and divisive brand of politics—an alternative rooted in a New Economy, a New Patriotism, a New Civil Society, and a New Democracy. One Nation After Trump is the essential book for our era, an unsparing assessment of the perils facing the United States and an inspiring roadmap for how we can reclaim the future.

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