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How Democratic Is The American Constitution

Author: Robert Alan Dahl
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300095241
Size: 35.55 MB
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In this volume, an eminent political scientist questions the extent to which the American Constitution furthers democratic goals. Robert Dahl reveals the Constitution's potentially antidemocratic elements and explains why they are there, compares the American constitutional system to other democratic systems, and explores how Americans might alter their political system to achieve greater equality among citizens. In a new chapter for this second edition, he shows how increasing differences in state populations revealed by the Census of 2000 have further increased the veto power over constitutional amendments held by a tiny minority of Americans. He then explores the prospects for changing some important political practices that are not prescribed by the written Constitution, though most Americans may assume them to be so.

On Political Equality

Author: Robert Alan Dahl
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300126877
Size: 62.15 MB
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Robert A. Dahl, one of the world’s most influential and respected political scientists, has spent a lifetime exploring the institutions and practices of democracy in such landmark books as Who Governs?, On Democracy, and How Democratic Is the American Constitution? Here, Dahl looks at the fundamental issue of equality and how and why governments have fallen short of their democratic ideals. At the center of the book is the question of whether the goal of political equality is so far beyond our human limits that it should be abandoned in favor of more attainable ends, or if there are ways to realistically address and reduce inequities. Though complete equality is unattainable, Dahl argues that strides toward that ideal are both desirable and feasible. He shows the remarkable shift in recent centuries toward democracy and political equality the world over. He explores the growth of democratic institutions, the expansion of citizenship, and the various obstacles that stand in the way of gains in political equality. Dahl also looks at the motives, particularly those of emotion and reason, that play such a crucial role in the struggle for equality. In conclusion, Dahl assesses the contemporary political landscape in the United States. He looks at the likelihood of political inequality increasing, and poses one scenario in which Americans grow more unequal in their influence over their government. The counter scenario foresees a cultural shift in which citizens, rejecting what Dahl calls "competitive consumerism,” invest time and energy in civic action and work to reduce the inequality that now exists among Americans.

Beyond Origins

Author: Angélica Maria Bernal
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0190685638
Size: 41.45 MB
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The foundings of constitutional democracies are commonly traced to singular moments. In turn, these moments of national origin are characterized as radical political innovations, notable for their civic unity, perfect legitimacy and binding authority. This common view is attractive as it suggests original founding events, actors, and ideals that can be evoked to legitimize state authority and unify citizens. Angélica Maria Bernal challenges this view of foundings, however, explaining that it is ultimately dangerous, misguided, and unsustainable. Beyond Origins argues that the ascription of a universal authority to original founding events is problematic because it limits our understanding of subsequent foundational changes, political transformation and innovation. This singular view also confounds our ability to account for all of the actors and venues through which foundation-building and constitutional transformation occurs. Because such understandings of national foundings obscure the many power struggles at work in them, these origin stories are troubling and unhelpful. In the wake of these limited views of founding, Bernal develops an alternate approach: "founding beyond origins." Rather than asserting that founding events are authoritatively settled and relegated to history, this framework redefines foundings as contentious, uncertain, and incomplete. Indeed, the book looks at a wide variety of contexts-early imperial Rome; revolutionary Haiti and France; the mid-20th century, racially-segregated United States; and contemporary Latin America-to reconsider political foundings as a contestatory and ongoing dimension of political life. Bridging classic and contemporary political and constitutional theory with historical readings, Bernal reorients approaches to foundings, arguing that it is only through context-specific and pragmatist understandings of political origins that we can realize the potential for radical democratic change.

A More Perfect Constitution

Author: Larry J. Sabato
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
ISBN: 9780802777560
Size: 11.93 MB
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A More Perfect Constitution presents creative and dynamic proposals from one of the most visionary and fertile political minds of our time to reinvigorate our Constitution and American governance at a time when such change is urgently needed, given the growing dysfunction and unfairness of our political system . Combining idealism and pragmatism, and with full respect for the original document, Larry Sabato's thought-provoking ideas range from the length of the president's term in office and the number and terms of Supreme Court justices to the vagaries of the antiquated Electoral College, and a compelling call for universal national service-all laced through with the history behind each proposal and the potential impact on the lives of ordinary people. Aware that such changes won't happen easily, but that the original Framers fully expected the Constitution to be regularly revised, Sabato urges us to engage in the debate and discussion his ideas will surely engender. During a presidential election year, no book is more relevant or significant than this.

On Democracy

Author: Robert A. Dahl
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300194463
Size: 46.50 MB
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This lucid book by the preeminent democratic theorist of our time explains the nature, value, and mechanics of democracy. This new edition includes two additional chapters by Ian Shapiro. One deals with the prospects for democracy in light of developments since the advent of the Arab spring in 2010. The other takes up the effects of inequality and money in politics on the quality of democracy, a subject that was of increasing concern to Dahl in his final years. “Completely accessible, admirably succinct, intelligent, and even wise, On Democracyoffers the ideal overview of the worst form of government except all others. Robert Dahl masterfully guides the general reader through a tour of the origins, ideals, actualities, and potentialities of democratic government. Even sophisticated students of democracy can learn a lot on this tour.”—Amy Gutman, coauthor of Democracy and Disagreement

On Two Wings

Author: Michael Novak
Publisher: Encounter Books
ISBN: 1594034117
Size: 57.22 MB
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The leaders of the American Revolution, unlike the leaders of the French revolution, did not set out to erase religion. Indeed, the very first act of the Continental Congress was to pray to Divine Providence in the face of the British bombardment of Boston. In establishing a new model of self-government, the Founders believed that they were not only acting according to reason and common sense, but also obeying a religious duty. Benjamin Franklin proposed as their motto: “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.” In telling the story of the forgotten—if not deliberately ignored—role of faith in America’s beginnings, Michael Novak probes the innermost religious conviction of Washington, Jefferson, Madison and other of our Founders. He shows that while the American eagle could not have taken flight without the empirical turn of mind embodied in John Locke’s teaching on the ends of government and the consent of the governed, the men who made America also believed that liberty depends as much on faith as on reason. In the course of his illustrious career, Michael Novak has written several prize-winning books on theology and philosophy. In On Two Wings he has created a profound mediation on American history, and on human nature and destiny as well.

Essentials Of Comparative Politics

Author: O'Neil, Patrick H
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393263118
Size: 66.68 MB
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The Essentials of Comparative Politics family provides all of the tools professors need to introduce the study and comparison of political systems. A brief conceptual textbook of the core ideas behind comparative politics, a complete casebook of thirteen country studies, and a comprehensive reader of secondary and primary sources - together these give instructors the utmost flexibility in structuring their courses without asking students to pay too much.

A Different Democracy

Author: Steven L. Taylor
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300210701
Size: 61.21 MB
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Four distinguished scholars in political science analyze American democracy from a comparative point of view, exploring how the U.S. political system differs from that of thirty other democracies and what those differences ultimately mean for democratic performance. This essential text approaches the following institutions from a political engineering point of view: constitutions, electoral systems, and political parties, as well as legislative, executive, and judicial power. The text looks at democracies from around the world over a two-decade time frame. The result is not only a fresh view of the much-discussed theme of American exceptionalism but also an innovative approach to comparative politics that treats the United States as but one case among many. An ideal textbook for both American and comparative politics courses.

Parties And Policies

Author: David R. Mayhew
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 0300151764
Size: 43.55 MB
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In this wide-ranging new volume, one of our most important and perceptive scholars of the workings of the American government investigates political parties, politicians, elections, and policymaking to discover why public policy emerges in the shape that it does. David R. Mayhew looks at two centuries of policy makingfrom the Civil War and Reconstruction era through the Progressive era, the New Deal, the Great Society, the Reagan years, and the aspirations of the Clinton and Bush administrationsand offers his original insights on the ever-evolving American policy experience. These fourteen essays were written over the past three decades and collectively showcase Mayhews skepticism of the usefulness of political parties as an analytic window into American politics. These writings, which include a new introductory essay, probe beneath the parties to the essentials of the U.S. constitutional system and the impulses and idiosyncrasies of history.