The Mild Voice of Reason

Deliberative Democracy and American National Government

The Mild Voice of Reason

In recent years, many Americans and more than a few political scientists have come to believe that democratic deliberation in Congress—whereby judgments are made on the merits of policies reflecting the interests and desires of American citizens—is more myth than reality. Rather, pressure from special interest groups, legislative bargaining, and the desire of incumbents to be reelected are thought to originate in American legislative politics. While not denying such influences, Joseph M. Bessette argues that the institutional framework created by the founding fathers continues to foster a government that is both democratic and deliberative, at least to some important degree. Drawing on original research, case studies of policymaking in Congress, and portraits of American lawmakers, Bessette demonstrates not only the limitations of nondeliberative explanations for how laws are made but also the continued vitality of genuine reasoning on the merits of public policy. Bessette discusses the contributions of the executive branch to policy deliberation, and looks at the controversial issue of the proper relationship of public opinion to policymaking. Informed by Bessette's nine years of public service in city and federal government, The Mild Voice of Reason offers important insights into the real workings of American democracy, articulates a set of standards by which to assess the workings of our governing institutions, and clarifies the forces that promote or inhibit the collective reasoning about common goals so necessary to the success of American democracy. "No doubt the best-publicized recent book-length work on Congress is columnist George Will's diatribe in praise of term limits in which the core of his complaint is that Congress does not deliberate in its decision-making. Readers who are inclined to share that fantasy would do well to consult the work of Joseph M. Bessette. He turns up massive amounts of material attesting to the centrality of deliberation in congressional life."—Nelson W. Polsby, Presidential Studies Quarterly

Heavy Lifting

The Job of the American Legislature

Heavy Lifting

What makes for a “good” legislature? In Heavy Lifting, Alan Rosenthal traveled to five states, interviewing and shadowing legislators to find out the answer. Through this engaging narrative, the author first establishes the most important aspects of American state legislatures--what they are and how they do their jobs--and then graduates to the book’s central thesis: Rosenthal argues that, on the whole, the American legislature must be evaluated on the basis of its processes, not its products. He breaks down the legislative process into three principal functions: representing, lawmaking, and balancing the executive, and covers each in turn in the remainder of the book.

The New Progressive Era

Toward a Fair and Deliberative Democracy

The New Progressive Era

A century ago, Americans launched a period of civic renewal and political reform. Today, amid deep dissatisfaction with our major institutions, there are signs that a new movement may revive the spirit of the original Progressive Era. Peter Levine draws inspiration from the great Progressive leader Robert M. La Follete, Sr., and his circle, which included John Dewey, Jane Addams, and Louis Brandeis. He discusses the shortcomings of this group as well as their successes, but he argues that their ideal of a fair and deliberative democracy is right for our time.

Is Congress Broken?

The Virtues and Defects of Partisanship and Gridlock

Is Congress Broken?

Making Congress Work, Again, Within the Constitutional System Congress for many years has ranked low in public esteem—joining journalists, bankers, and union leaders at the bottom of polls. And in recent years there's been good reason for the public disregard, with the rise of hyper-partisanship and the increasing inability of Congress to carry out its required duties, such as passing spending bills on time and conducting responsible oversight of the executive branch. Congress seems so dysfunctional that many observers have all but thrown up their hands in despair, suggesting that an apparently broken U.S. political system might need to be replaced. Now, some of the country's foremost experts on Congress are reminding us that tough hyper-partisan conflict always has been a hallmark of the constitutional system. Going back to the nation's early decades, Congress has experienced periods of division and turmoil. But even in those periods Congress has been able to engage in serious deliberation, prevent ill-considered proposals from becoming law—and, over time, help develop a deeper, more lasting national consensus. The ten chapters in this volume focus on how Congress in the twenty-first century can once again fulfill its proper functions of representation, deliberation, legislation, and oversight. The authors offer a series of practical reforms that would maintain, rather than replace, the constitutional separation of powers that has served the nation well for more than 200 years.

The Blackwell Guide to Social and Political Philosophy

The Blackwell Guide to Social and Political Philosophy

The Blackwell Guide to Social and Political Philosophy brings together a collection of newly commissioned essays which examine fundamental issues in social and political theory. Written by leading social and political philosophers, each essay provides a map to the history of the issue at hand and a judicious assessment of the main arguments that have been brought to bear upon that issue.

The Mechanics of Modernity in Europe and East Asia

Institutional Origins of Social Change and Stagnation

The Mechanics of Modernity in Europe and East Asia

Why, from the eighteenth century onwards, did some countries embark on a path of sustained economic growth, while others stagnated? This text looks at the kind of institutions that are required in order for change to take place, and Ringmar concludes that for sustained development to be possible, change must be institutionalized. Taking a global view, Ringmar investigates the implications of his conclusion on issues facing the developing world today.

American Government and Politics: Deliberation, Democracy and Citizenship, Election Update

American Government and Politics: Deliberation, Democracy and Citizenship, Election Update

This Election Update edition of Bessette/Pitney’s AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: DELIBERATION, DEMOCRACY AND CITIZENSHIP, is complete with 2010 election information. Like its previous edition, the text has three underlying principles: Citizenship, History and Democracy. Via two unique chapters -- Chapter 4: American Citizenship and Chapter 5: Civic Culture -- authors Joseph Bessette and John Pitney, Jr. examine the way that civic culture shapes the country and take a close look at civic responsibility. Deliberative democracy -- the concept that political systems work best when informed citizens and public officials deliberate to identify and promote the common good -- is considered throughout the text. Important Notice: Media content referenced within the product description or the product text may not be available in the ebook version.

The Constitutional Presidency

The Constitutional Presidency

Bush administration.