Red and Blue Nation?: Consequences and Correction of America's Polarized Politics

Brookings Institution Press
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America's polarized politics are largely disconnected from mainstream public preferences. This disconnect poses fundamental dangers for the representativeness and accountability of government, as well as the already withering public trust in it. As the 2008 presidential race kicks into gear, the political climate certainly will not become less polarized. With important issues to address—including immigration policy, health care, and the funding of the Iraq war—it is critical that essential policies not be hostage to partisan political battles. Building upon the findings of the first volume of Red and Blue Nation? (Brookings, 2006), which explored the extent of political polarization and its potential causes, this new volume delves into the consequences of the gulf between "red states" and "blue states." The authors examine the impact of these political divisions on voter behavior, Congressional law-making, judicial selection, and foreign policy formation. They shed light on hotly debated institutional reform proposals—including changes to the electoral system and the congressional rules of engagement—and ultimately present research-supported policies and reforms for alleviating the underlying causes of political polarization. While most discussion of polarization takes place in separate spheres of journalism and academia, Red and Blue Nation? brings together a unique set of voices with a wide variety of perspectives to enrich our understanding of the issue. Written in a broad, accessible style, it is a resource for anyone interested in the future of electoral politics in America. Contributors include Marc Hetherington and John G. Geer (Vanderbilt University), Deborah Jordan Brooks (Dartmouth College), Martin P. Wattenberg (University of California, Irvine), Barbara Sinclair and Joel D. Aberbach (UCLA), Christopher H. Foreman (University of Maryland), Keith Krehbiel (Stanford University), Sarah A. Binder, Benjamin Wittes, Jonathan Rauch, and William A. Galston (Brookings), Martin Shapiro (University of California–Berkeley), Peter Beinart (Council on Foreign Relations), James Q. Wilson (Pepperdine University), John Ferejohn and Larry Diamond (Hoover Institution), Laurel Harbridge (Stanford University), Andrea L. Campbell (MIT), and Eric M. Patashnik (University of Virginia).
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About the author

Pietro S. Nivola is a vice president of the Brookings Institution, where he is the director of Governance Studies. Among his previous books are Tense Commandments: Federal Prescriptions and City Problems (Brookings, 2002) and Agenda for the Nation, coedited with Henry J. Aaron and James M. Lindsay (Brookings, 2003). David W. Brady is deputy director and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution; the Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; and professor of political science in Stanford University's School of Humanities and Sciences. Among his previous books is Revolving Gridlock: Politics and Policy from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush, coauthored with Craig Volden (Westview, 2005).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Apr 1, 2008
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780815760788
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism
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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For decades, concerns have been raised about the consequences of relentless suburban expansion in the United States. But so far, government programs to control urban sprawl have had little effect in slowing it down, much less stopping it. In this book, Pietro S. Nivola raises important questions about the continued suburbanization of America: Is suburban growth just the result of market forces, or have government policies helped induce greater sprawl? How much of the government intervention has been undesirable, and what has been beneficial? And, if suburban growth is to be controlled, what changes in public policies would be not only effective, but practical?

Nivola addresses these questions by comparing sprawling U.S. metropolitan areas to compact development patterns in Europe. He contrasts the effects of traditional urban programs, as well as "accidental urban policies" that have a profound if commonly unrecognized impact on cities, including national tax systems, energy conservation efforts, agricultural supports, and protection from international commerce.

Nivola also takes a hard look at the traditional solutions of U.S. urban policy agenda involving core-area reconstruction projects, mass transit investments, "smart" growth controls, and metropolitan organizational rearrangements, and details the reasons why they often don't work. He concludes by recommending reforms for key U.S. policies--from taxes to transportation to federal regulations--based on the successes and failures of the European experience.

Brookings Metropolitan Series

#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?
The American economy is in many ways uniquely unfettered. Nowhere else in the industrial world is it easier to set up a discount store, start a new airline, or shrink a payroll. But extensive economic deregulation has been matched by a burgeoning body of social law cracking down on business. From shareholder litigation and strict product liability to punitive environmental controls and workplace rules, entrepreneurs run a gauntlet of legal perils. The costs of this expanding and contentious agenda often exceed the value of its social benefits. The projected annual costs over benefits of the 1990 Clean Air Act, for instance, surpass the estimated value of U.S. exports blocked by all of Japan's known import restrictions. How sustainable is this situation amid the pressures of globalization? The contributors to this volume explore the question from a variety of perspectives.

U.S. policymakers frequently criticize the rest of the world for policies and practices that are said to constrict American commerce. Yet some trade disputes have been ignited by questionable rules made in the United States. Indeed, legal strictures have posed barriers to imports and possibly discouraged foreign investors, as well as interfered with some U.S. exports. At times the social regulatory regime has also stirred abrasive efforts to extend U.S. sanctions to foreign soil. Even if those frictions have been of minor consequences so far, inefficient legal and regulatory conventions exact a toll on U.S. productivity growth.

The book concludes that in a global economy the burdensome regulations of foreign countries deserve attention, but increasingly so do the burdens that American "adversarial legalism" imposes on itself and sometimes on others. Ideas and prospects for correcting the problem are discussed throughout.

The contributors include Lee Axelrad, Thomas F. Burke, Loren Cass, Robert A. Kagan, Mark K. Landy, Roger G. Noll, and David Vogel.

In the early 1980s, American complaints about unfair trade practices began to intensify. Sunrise industries, such as manufacturers of semiconductors and telecommunications equipment, joined older complainants, including steel and textile producers, in seeking more safeguards against international competitors who priced their products too aggressively or whose governments subsidized exports or protected home markets. In this politically charged atmosphere, the U.S. government has devised increasingly stringent regulatory programs to address the claimed abuses and distortions. In this book, Pietro Nivola examines the strenuous effort to combat the objectionable trading practices of other countries. Through most of the postwar period, Nivola notes, policymakers had deemed it in the nation's economic and strategic interests to tolerate asymmetries and infractions in the international trading order. But that tolerance has been sharply lowered by heightened sensitivity to inequities, and a growing conviction that government should intervene, frequently and forcefully, to ensure a "level playing field." The book maintains that foreign protectionism lower East-West tensions, and alleged American decline in the face of international competition cannot fully explain the stiffening regulation of unfair trade. The world trading system, Nivola contends, is not more restrictive now than it was earlier. Cries about foreign commercial transgressions in recent years have remained shrill despite a formidable U.S. export boom and an improved current account valance. Much of the U.S. regulatory activity has acquired a political momentum of its own. The activity has increased not just because global competitive pressures have generally intensified but because we have developed more ways and inducement to complain about those pressures. Nivola cautions that trade regulations now bears too much of the burden for ameliorating economic imbalances and deficiencies. The tendency adds to a sense of frustration that fuels demands for additional regulations. While recognizing the need for an explicit and responsible trade policy, Nivola concludes that such a policy must be based, first and foremost, on realistic expectations. Trade actions need to compliment, not subordinate, a more basic agenda: improvement in the national rates of saving and investment, better preparation of the work force, control of runaway health care costs, less litigation, and more regulatory reform—all of which are likely to be far more consequential for the nation's long-term competitiveness and living standards.
With distrust between the political parties running deep and Congress divided, the government of the United States goes to war. The war is waged without adequately preparing the means to finance it or readying suitable contingency plans to contend with its unanticipated complications. The executive branch suffers from managerial confusion and in-fighting. The military invades a foreign country, expecting to be greeted as liberators, but encounters stiff, unwelcome resistance. The conflict drags on longer than predicted. It ends rather inconclusively—or so it seems in its aftermath.

Sound familiar? This all happened two hundred years ago.

What So Proudly We Hailed looks at the War of 1812 in part through the lens of today's America. On the bicentennial of that formative yet largely forgotten period in U.S. history, this provocative book asks: What did Americans learn—and not learn—from the experience? What instructive parallels and distinctions can be drawn with more recent events? How did it shape the nation?

Exploring issues ranging from party politics to sectional schisms, distant naval battles to the burning of Washington, and citizens' civil liberties to the fate of Native Americans caught in the struggle, these essays speak to the complexity and unpredictability of a war that many assumed would be brief and straightforward. What emerges is a revealing perspective on a problematic "war of choice"—the nation's first, but one with intriguing implications for others, including at least one in the present century.

Although the War of 1812 may have faded from modern memory, the conflict left important legacies, both in its immediate wake and in later years. In its own time, the war was transformative. To this day, however, some of the fundamental challenges that confronted U.S. policymakers two centuries ago still resonate. How much should a free society regularly invest in national defense? Should the expense be defrayed through new taxes? Is it possible for profound partisan disagreements to stop "at the water's edge"? What are the constitutional limits of executive powers in wartime? How, exactly, should the government treat dissenters, especially when many are suspected of giving aid and comfort to an enemy? As Americans continue to reflect on their country and its role in the world, these questions remain as relevant now as they were then.

During the past decade, dozens of large cities lost population as jobs and people kept moving to the suburbs. Despite widespread urban revitalization and renewal, one fact remains unmistakable: when choosing where to live and work, Americans prefer the suburbs to the cities. Many underlying causes of the urban predicament are familiar: disproportionate poverty, stiff city tax rates, and certain unsatisfactory municipal services (most notably, public schools). Less recognized is the distinct possibility that sometimes the regulatory policies of the federal government—the rules and rulings imposed by its judges, bureaucrats, and lawmakers—further disadvantage the cities, ultimately burdening their ability to attract residents and businesses. In Tense Commandments, Pietro S. Nivola encourages renewed reflection on the suitable balance between national and local domains. He examines an array of directive or supervisory methods by which federal policymakers narrow local autonomy and complicate the work urban governments are supposed to do. Urban taxpayers finance many costly projects that are prescribed by federal law. A handful of national rules bore down on local governments before 1965. Today these governments labor under hundreds of so-called unfunded mandates. Federal aid to large cities has lagged behind a profusion of mandated expenditures, at times straining municipal budgets. Apart from their fiscal impacts, Nivola argues, various federal prescriptions impinge on local administration of routine services, tying the hands of managers and complicating city improvements. Nivola includes case studies of six cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He describes the "politics of paternalism," the political pressures that federal regulations place on governance. Then he offers comparisons with various political systems abroad, including Germany, the U.K., France, and Italy. As the nation and its cities brace for a long and arduous effort to combat terrorism, Nivola recommends that federal mandates be evaluated with a standard question: are they socially beneficial, or do they deprive localities of discretion, distort legitimate local priorities, and perhaps misallocate resources? In today's intricate federal system, the unencumbered capacity of governments at all levels to define their roles and concentrate on their core functions and responsibilities seems urgent.
During the past decade, dozens of large cities lost population as jobs and people kept moving to the suburbs. Despite widespread urban revitalization and renewal, one fact remains unmistakable: when choosing where to live and work, Americans prefer the suburbs to the cities. Many underlying causes of the urban predicament are familiar: disproportionate poverty, stiff city tax rates, and certain unsatisfactory municipal services (most notably, public schools). Less recognized is the distinct possibility that sometimes the regulatory policies of the federal government—the rules and rulings imposed by its judges, bureaucrats, and lawmakers—further disadvantage the cities, ultimately burdening their ability to attract residents and businesses. In Tense Commandments, Pietro S. Nivola encourages renewed reflection on the suitable balance between national and local domains. He examines an array of directive or supervisory methods by which federal policymakers narrow local autonomy and complicate the work urban governments are supposed to do. Urban taxpayers finance many costly projects that are prescribed by federal law. A handful of national rules bore down on local governments before 1965. Today these governments labor under hundreds of so-called unfunded mandates. Federal aid to large cities has lagged behind a profusion of mandated expenditures, at times straining municipal budgets. Apart from their fiscal impacts, Nivola argues, various federal prescriptions impinge on local administration of routine services, tying the hands of managers and complicating city improvements. Nivola includes case studies of six cities: Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He describes the "politics of paternalism," the political pressures that federal regulations place on governance. Then he offers comparisons with various political systems abroad, including Germany, the U.K., France, and Italy. As the nation and its cities brace for a long and arduous effort to combat terrorism, Nivola recommends that federal mandates be evaluated with a standard question: are they socially beneficial, or do they deprive localities of discretion, distort legitimate local priorities, and perhaps misallocate resources? In today's intricate federal system, the unencumbered capacity of governments at all levels to define their roles and concentrate on their core functions and responsibilities seems urgent.
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