In "Does American Democracy Still Work?" Alan Wolfe answers his own question with something equivalent to: if so, just barely and badly at that. For him, American democracy is in radical decline. Americans no longer get the information they need to make decisions properly, and politicians are no longer held accountable for the decisions they make in office. Emotional populist appeals, he believes, block out important facts....
In "Our Undemocratic Constitution," Sanford Levinson locates the flaws of the system in America's founding document itself--the Constitution....
He contends that the Electoral College, the Senate, the presence of two legislative chambers and the presidential veto all detract from "real" democracy. The Electoral College and the Senate give an unfair advantage to voters in less populous states; the requirement that both House and Senate approve of a bill makes it harder to fashion new law, and the veto makes it harder still, privileging the status quo.
Of course, the Constitution's design has a purpose--to make democracy republican and not "direct," to slow it down, lest wayward passions push the country too violently in one direction or another. Time seems to have vindicated the Framers' wisdom on such matters.... Mr. Levinson does not come close to showing why it would be prudent to rebuild this framework and put its redesign up for grabs.
November 7, 2006
"Will a Democratic victory in today's election suddenly restore the integrity of America's political system...?"
Lawprof John O. McGinnis looks at two books that say American democracy is broken and thinks what he's seeing are two authors who don't like who's winning the elections these days: