Some journalists and scholars (across the political spectrum) have argued that U.S. democracy is on a precipice of totalitarianism, or, at best, “illiberal democracy”. These people point to the failure of democratic institutions; the collapse of institutional norms; the disregard for safeguards such as the electoral college; and the rise of a leader who has little regard for these democratic norms, institutions, and the Constitution. Mann and Ornstein, prior to Trump’s candidacy, highlighted collapsing institutional rules and norms, arguing that U.S. democracy had become dysfunctional.
- A)Mann and Ornstein describe a collapse of institutional rules and norms in Congress that have contributed to dysfunction in Congress. Discuss 3 rules and norms that have been disrupted over the past decade, and how these would lead to the rise of illiberal democracy.
- B)Why were these norms disrupted? What was the origin of disruption? Did this just happen? Or was it a calculated strategy? Explain.
- C)Do you think that American democracy is dying? To what extent does the 2016 election represent a temporary or permanent change in America’s political landscape? What evidence, from the Mann and Ornstein book, supports your perspective?
3) Ornstein and Mann argue that there are a number of major policy issues facing the US: Climate Change; long term debt issues and fiscal (tax) reform; and growing inequality. In America’s Bitter Pill, Brill describes Obama’s political strategy as a search for bipartisanship and compromise to solve a major policy issue (Health Care Coverage & Costs).
- A)Why did Obama attempt to pursue a strategy of bipartisanship and compromise? What were the consequences of this strategy?
- B)Considering the political climate that Mann and Ornstein describe, how might these efforts be viewed in the future? What needs to happen to achieve political compromise in the future?
- C)Discuss 3 major political lessons from the Health Care Reform experience that might help improve the prospects for addressing other major policy issues.