Democracy More or Less: America's Political Reform Quandary

Democracy More or Less: America's Political Reform Quandary

by Bruce E. Cain

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Why do American political reform efforts so often fail to solve the problems they intend to fix? In this book, Bruce E. Cain argues that the reasons are an unrealistic civic ideal of a fully informed and engaged citizenry and a neglect of basic pluralist principles about political intermediaries. This book traces the tension between populist and pluralist approaches as it plays out in many seemingly distinct reform topics, such as voting administration, campaign finance, excessive partisanship, redistricting, and transparency and voter participation. It explains why political primaries have promoted partisan polarization, why voting rates are declining even as election opportunities increase, and why direct democracy is not really a grassroots tool. Cain offers a reform agenda that attempts to reconcile pluralist ideals with the realities of collective-action problems and resource disparities.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107612266
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 12/31/2014
Series: Cambridge Studies in Election Law and Democracy Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Bruce E. Cain is the Charles Louis Ducommun Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Political Science Department at Stanford University, where he is also the director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. In addition to publishing numerous scholarly works, he has also served as a consultant for state and local governments on constitutional and charter reform, campaign finance regulation, redistricting, and voting rights. He received the Zale Award for Outstanding Achievement in Policy Research and Public Service and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Table of Contents

1. The ascendancy of reform populism; 2. Reform pluralism; 3. How much transparency?; 4. Participation paradoxes; 5. Reform cycles; 6. Fair representation; 7. Raising the political ethics bar; 8. Election administration or policy?; 9. A blended reform agenda.

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