The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It

Princeton University Press
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If politics is the art of the possible, then compromise is the artistry of democracy. Unless one partisan ideology holds sway over all branches of government, compromise is necessary to govern for the benefit of all citizens. A rejection of compromise biases politics in favor of the status quo, even when the rejection risks crisis. Why then is compromise so difficult in American politics today?

In The Spirit of Compromise, eminent political thinkers Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson connect the rejection of compromise to the domination of campaigning over governing--the permanent campaign---in American democracy today. They show that campaigning for political office calls for a mindset that blocks compromise--standing tenaciously on principle to mobilize voters and mistrusting opponents in order to defeat them. Good government calls for an opposite cluster of attitudes and arguments--the compromising mindset--that inclines politicians to adjust their principles and to respect their opponents. It is a mindset that helps politicians appreciate and take advantage of opportunities for desirable compromise.

Gutmann and Thompson explore the dynamics of these mindsets by comparing the historic compromises on tax reform under President Reagan in 1986 and health care reform under President Obama in 2010. Both compromises were difficult to deliver but only tax reform was bipartisan. Drawing lessons from these and other important compromises--and failures to compromise--in American politics, Gutmann and Thompson propose changes in our political institutions, processes, and mindsets that would encourage a better balance between campaigning and governing.

Calling for greater cooperation in contemporary politics, The Spirit of Compromise will interest all who care about whether their government leaders can work together.

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About the author

Amy Gutmann is president of the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science. Dennis Thompson is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy at Harvard University. Gutmann and Thompson are coauthors of "Why Deliberative Democracy?" (Princeton) and "Democracy and Disagreement."
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Apr 22, 2012
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9781400841639
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
Political Science / American Government / General
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Political Science / Political Process / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Robert I. Rotberg
The truth commission is an increasingly common fixture of newly democratic states with repressive or strife-ridden pasts. From South Africa to Haiti, truth commissions are at work with varying degrees of support and success. To many, they are the best--or only--way to achieve a full accounting of crimes committed against fellow citizens and to prevent future conflict. Others question whether a restorative justice that sets the guilty free, that cleanses society by words alone, can deter future abuses and allow victims and their families to heal. Here, leading philosophers, lawyers, social scientists, and activists representing several perspectives look at the process of truth commissioning in general and in post-apartheid South Africa. They ask whether the truth commission, as a method of seeking justice after conflict, is fair, moral, and effective in bringing about reconciliation.

The authors weigh the virtues and failings of truth commissions, especially the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in their attempt to provide restorative rather than retributive justice. They examine, among other issues, the use of reparations as social policy and the granting of amnesty in exchange for testimony. Most of the contributors praise South Africa's decision to trade due process for the kinds of truth that permit closure. But they are skeptical that such revelations produce reconciliation, particularly in societies that remain divided after a compromise peace with no single victor, as in El Salvador. Ultimately, though, they find the truth commission to be a worthy if imperfect instrument for societies seeking to say "never again" with confidence. At a time when truth commissions have been proposed for Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, East Timor, Cambodia, Nigeria, Palestine, and elsewhere, the authors' conclusion that restorative justice provides positive gains could not be more important.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are Amy Gutmann, Rajeev Bhargava, Elizabeth Kiss, David A. Crocker, André du Toit, Alex Boraine, Dumisa Ntsebeza, Lisa Kois, Ronald C. Slye, Kent Greenawalt, Sanford Levinson, Martha Minow, Charles S. Maier, Charles Villa-Vicencio, and Wilhelm Verwoerd.

Kwame Anthony Appiah
In America today, the problem of achieving racial justice--whether through "color-blind" policies or through affirmative action--provokes more noisy name-calling than fruitful deliberation. In Color Conscious, K. Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann, two eminent moral and political philosophers, seek to clear the ground for a discussion of the place of race in politics and in our moral lives. Provocative and insightful, their essays tackle different aspects of the question of racial justice; together they provide a compelling response to our nation's most vexing problem.

Appiah begins by establishing the problematic nature of the idea of race. He draws on the scholarly consensus that "race" has no legitimate biological basis, exploring the history of its invention as a social category and showing how the concept has been used to explain differences among groups of people by mistakenly attributing various "essences" to them. Appiah argues that, while people of color may still need to gather together, in the face of racism, under the banner of race, they need also to balance carefully the calls of race against the many other dimensions of individual identity; and he suggests, finally, what this might mean for our political life.

Gutmann examines alternative political responses to racial injustice. She argues that American politics cannot be fair to all citizens by being color blind because American society is not color blind. Fairness, not color blindness, is a fundamental principle of justice. Whether policies should be color-conscious, class conscious, or both in particular situations, depends on an open-minded assessment of their fairness. Exploring timely issues of university admissions, corporate hiring, and political representation, Gutmann develops a moral perspective that supports a commitment to constitutional democracy.

Appiah and Gutmann write candidly and carefully, presenting many-faceted interpretations of a host of controversial issues. Rather than supplying simple answers to complex questions, they offer to citizens of every color principled starting points for the ongoing national discussions about race.

Amy Gutmann
The most widely debated conception of democracy in recent years is deliberative democracy--the idea that citizens or their representatives owe each other mutually acceptable reasons for the laws they enact. Two prominent voices in the ongoing discussion are Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson. In Why Deliberative Democracy?, they move the debate forward beyond their influential book, Democracy and Disagreement.

What exactly is deliberative democracy? Why is it more defensible than its rivals? By offering clear answers to these timely questions, Gutmann and Thompson illuminate the theory and practice of justifying public policies in contemporary democracies. They not only develop their theory of deliberative democracy in new directions but also apply it to new practical problems. They discuss bioethics, health care, truth commissions, educational policy, and decisions to declare war. In "What Deliberative Democracy Means," which opens this collection of essays, they provide the most accessible exposition of deliberative democracy to date. They show how deliberative democracy should play an important role even in the debates about military intervention abroad.

Why Deliberative Democracy? contributes to our understanding of how democratic citizens and their representatives can make justifiable decisions for their society in the face of the fundamental disagreements that are inevitable in diverse societies. Gutmann and Thompson provide a balanced and fair-minded approach that will benefit anyone intent on giving reason and reciprocity a more prominent place in politics than power and special interests.

John Goldsmith
An anthology of twenty-one crime, mystery, suspense and romance stories from nineteen authors, including Emmy-nominated John Goldsmith and Booker-nominated Jim Williams.

This global collection of short stories from 400 to 7000 words covers everything from crime fiction to romantic suspense and historical mystery.

Authors: John Goldsmith, Jim Williams, Jeremy Hinchliff, John Holland, Gerry McCullough, Alexandar Altman, R.A. Barnes, Maura Barrett, Eileen Condon, Mary Healy, Susan Howe, Damon King, Mary Mitchell, Jeanne O’Dwyer, Michael Rumsey, Valerie Ryan, Dennis Thompson, Catherine Tynan and T. West.

Contents

La Morvandelle by John Goldsmith – from rabbit stew to alien abduction

Diodati by Jim Williams – of poets and monsters

The Sand Students by Jeremy Hinchliff – a feud on shifting sands

The Book by John Holland – the librarian takes liberties

Harvey’s Lucky Day by Gerry McCullough – some say we make our own luck

The Quiet Room by Alexandar Altman – overdosed on love

Heirloom by R.A. Barnes – a deadly pact

Son of Angus by Maura Barrett – a summer of mystic love

The Red Scarf by Eileen Condon – unrequited love in the countryside

Braille of Brocade by Mary Healy – discovering inner beauty

The Five Loves of Frank by Jeremy Hinchliff – you’re not The One

Two of a Kind by Susan Howe – a torrent of love

Mr Mystery by Damon King – the dangers of internet dating

That’s Enough! by Mary Mitchell – a disobedient husband

Book Lovers by Jeanne O’Dwyer – reading between the lines

Coaster Nights by Michael Rumsey – the grass is always greener

Spilled Wine by Damon King – is it better to have loved and lost?

One for the Road by Valerie Ryan – raise a glass to the happy couple

Terminal Vengeance by Dennis Thompson – the gentler sex prevails

Him by Catherine Tynan – he can’t be avoided forever

Phantasmagoria by T. West – visiting old haunts
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