- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (February 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1612051928
- ISBN-13: 978-1612051925
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
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#1,639,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #946 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Political Science > Constitutions
- #2048 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Elections & Political Process > Elections
- #2299 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Ideologies
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10 Steps to Repair American Democracy 1st Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"A much-needed owner's manual for the citizen-owners of government in the United States." -- Michael Lind, author,
"Anyone concerned about the state of our democratic system should read this book." -- Trevor Potter, former chairman, Federal Elections Commission
"Practical and insightful...an inspiring blueprint for reclaiming America. Read it, roll up your sleeves, and get to work." -- Arianna Huffington, author,
"We are fortunate to have Steven Hill's latest book to help us find our political compass." -- Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker
"We know American democracy is being run over a cliff. What's a citizen to do? Here, finally, is the plan." -- Jim Hightower, author,
“We know that American democracy is being run over a cliff—choice-less elections, screwy voting machines, brain-dead political debate, unresponsive government, etc. What's a citizen to do? Here, finally, is the plan.”
--- Jim Hightower, columnist and author of" Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush."
“It's an inspiring blueprint for reclaiming America. Read it, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.”
--- Arianna Huffington, columnist and bestselling author of "Pigs at the Trough"
“Steven Hill persuasively argues that much of what ails American politics is rooted in our antiquated methods and practices, from voting equipment to the way we elect the president … Anyone concerned about the state of our democratic system should read this book.”
--- Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission
“With this essential book, Steven Hill proposes a treatment plan for our ailing democra
About the Author
Steven Hill is the former Director of the Political Reform Program of the New America Foundation and co-founder of the Center for Voting and Democracy. His articles and commentaries have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Ms., Salon.com, and American Prospect. His previous book, Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics, has been called by author Michael Lind “the most important book on American democracy that has come out in many years.” He has lectured widely in the United States and Europe, and has appeared on C-SPAN, Fox News, National Public Radio, and numerous radio and television programs across the nation and in Europe. In 2004, he managed the successful campaign to pass instant runoff voting for Board of Supervisors elections in San Francisco. “More recently, he also helped organize the successful effort to establish public financing for the city’s mayoral campaigns. fairvote.org newamerica.net
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I'm afraid the reviewer who commented that our form of democracy may be out-of-date is right: we need to update and upgrade our version in light of the things we ought to have have learned since the 18th Century.
Implicit in and at the core of Original Intent is our Founders' manifest belief that we should use our brains and learn from the successes and mistakes of the past. Their intelligence, not their irrational passions, set up the rules that got us started. It's our choice now: whether we use the lessons of Enlightenment or whether we create our own Dark Ages.
So far we've not done well at it.
Overall though, it is a good book. Please don't let his bias prevent you from getting it, just be prepared. Also, don't HAVE to agree with every idea to like it, let it just make you think about how we can do better. As for what I think are the great ideas, I'd recommend it based on the ideas of Proportional Representation (PR), Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)and a National Election Commission on it's own! Get it even just to read about those three ideas alone.
1. Secure the Vote
2. Expand Voter Participation
3. Increase Voter Choice with Instant Runoff Voting
4. Scrap Winner-Take-All Elections
5. Direct Election of the President
6. Overhaul the U.S. Senate
7. Reclaim the Airwaves
8. Minimize Money's Role
9. Reform the Supreme Court
10. Restore Faith in Government
Obviously, each of these slogans really involves multiple steps. For example, "Secure the Vote" includes securing voter-verified recountable paper trails; impartial and professional election officials; and open-source software for electronic voting machines. "Expand Voter Participation" includes universal voter registration; making election day a holiday; and enfranchising prisoners and ex-cons. And so on down the list.
Hill puts the most emphasis on scrapping winner-take-all elections in favor of moderate proportional representation, of the type formerly used in the Illinois state legislature. In moderate proportional representation, three to five legislators are elected from geographical districts three to five times the size of those that currently exist. Since candidates in such districts would need only 17% to 25% of the vote to win a seat, Hill argues that minorities (political and ethnic) would gain representation proportional to their numbers, and polarization between "red" and "blue" areas would be dramatically reduced. At the same time, since these 17%-25% thresholds are much higher than those formerly used in Italy and Israel, moderate proportional representation isn't vulnerable to the sort of instability that troubled systems in which candidates could be elected with as little as 1% of the vote.
Hill's talk was held in a church, and I felt a bit like the choir, since I am familiar with most of these proposals and have supported many of them for years, to the point of writing articles and collecting signatures for instant runoff voting and proportional representation. "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy" is directed primarily toward those unfamiliar with these proposals, and seeing them for the first time.
Though Hill gives decent summaries of many of the issues and options, I personally would have liked more detailed discussions of the arguments for (and against) the various reforms proposed. I also would have appreciated more discussion on ways to work to enact these reforms -- all Hill does is suggest contacting the relevant organizations, which are listed at the end of each chapter. The writing was also tiresome on occasion, as several factoids, phrases, sentences and even a paragraph were repeated verbatim two or three times in less than 200 pages.
So although "10 Steps to Repair American Democracy" wasn't all I was looking for, it can still serve as a brief introduction to reforms whose time has come, especially valuable for people who are fed up with business as usual but don't have any idea what to do about it. I already have a lengthy list of friends and relatives to loan it to.