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Debating Reform
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Debating Reform
Conflicting Perspectives on How to Fix the American Political System

Third Edition
Edited by:


© 2017 | 424 pages | CQ Press
Debating Reform: Conflicting Perspectives on How to Fix the American Political System, Third Edition gets readers to consider the key issues in reforming political institutions. Written specifically for this volume, each pro or con essay is contributed by a top scholar and examines a concrete proposal for reforming the political system. By focusing on institutions, rather than liberal or conservative public policies, the text moves students to leave behind ideology and grapple with evidence, then draw their own conclusions and build their own arguments. Students explore how institutions work in their American government text, but this reader helps them understand how they can be made to work better.
 
Preface
 
Contributors
 
The Constitution
 
1 Resolved, Article V should be revised to make it easier to amend the Constitution and to call a constitutional convention
PRO: SANFORD LEVINSON
CON: DAVID E. KYVIG
 
Democracy
 
2 Resolved, American democracy needs less sunshine and more closed-door negotiations
PRO: BRUCE E. CAIN
CON: GARY D. BASS, DANIELLE BRIAN, AND NORMAN EISEN
 
Culture
 
3 Resolved, Andrew Jackson should be removed from the $20 bill
PRO: BRIAN A. WEINER
CON: MARK CHEATHEM
 
Federalism
 
4 Resolved, Congress should restore each state’s freedom to set its drinking age
PRO: JOHN MCCARDELL
CON: JAMES C. FELL
 
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
 
5 Resolved, Congress should pass the Democracy Restoration Act restoring the right to vote in federal elections to people with criminal records
PRO: ERIKA L. WOOD
CON: ROGER CLEGG
 
6 Resolved, states should enact voter ID laws and reduce early voting
PRO: MICHAEL NELSON
CON: KEITH GUNNAR BENTELE AND ERIN O’BRIEN
 
Political Participation
 
7 Resolved, The United States should adopt a national initiative and referendum
PRO: TODD DONOVAN
CON: RICHARD J. ELLIS
 
8 Resolved, The United States should adopt compulsory voting
PRO: MARTIN P. WATTENBERG
CON: JASON BRENNAN
 
Campaigns and Elections
 
9 Resolved, Congress should remove the caps on the amount that individuals can contribute to candidates for federal office
PRO: JOHN SAMPLES
CON: RICHARD BRIFFAULT
 
Political Parties
 
10 Resolved, political parties should nominate candidates for president in a national primary
PRO: CAROLINE J. TOLBERT
CON: DAVID P. REDLAWSK
 
Interest Groups
 
11 Resolved, Congress should bring back earmarks
PRO: SCOTT A. FRISCH AND SEAN Q KELLY
CON: JEFFREY LAZARUS
 
House of Representatives
 
12 Resolved, proportional representation should be adopted for U.S. House elections
PRO: DOUGLAS J. AMY
CON: BRENDAN J. DOHERTY
 
13 Resolved, the redistricting process should be nonpartisan
PRO: ELAINE C. KAMARCK
CON: JUSTIN BUCHLER
 
Senate
 
14 Resolved, the Senate should represent people, not states
PRO: BRUCE I. OPPENHEIMER
CON: JOHN J. PITNEY JR.
 
15 Resolved, Senate Rule XXII should be amended so that filibusters can be ended by a majority vote
PRO: STEVEN S. SMITH
CON: WENDY J. SCHILLER
 
Presidency
 
16 Resolved, the electoral college should be abolished
PRO: GEORGE C. EDWARDS III
CON: GARY L. GREGG II
 
17 Resolved, the Twenty-Second Amendment should be repealed
PRO: DAVID A. CROCKETT
CON: MICHAEL J. KORZI
 
Bureaucracy
 
18 Resolved, bring back the bureaucrats
PRO: JOHN DILULIO
CON: BRAD DEWEES
 
Judiciary
 
19 Resolved, the terms of Supreme Court justices should be limited to eighteen years
PRO: DAVID KAROL
CON: WARD FARNSWORTH
 
Domestic Policy
 
20 Resolved, Americans should receive four more years of free public education
PRO: ROBERT SAMUELS
CON: NEAL MCCLUSKEY
 
National Security and Foreign Policy
 
21 Resolved, national security would be strengthened by requiring the government to keep fewer secrets and become more transparent
PRO: MICHAEL COLARESI
CON: STEPHEN F. KNOTT

Debating Reform gets students thinking about government in ways that require critical analysis. Government is not static—it is something fluid and ever-changing. Through these readings, students are called to engage in a conversation not only about what government is, but also about what it could be.”

Chris Shortell
Portland State University

“The book is an excellent addition to the introductory American politics course. It covers a wide range of issues that provide focal points for class discussion, and it facilitates in-depth consideration of how institutional frameworks affect outcomes. In the past, I’ve been largely unimpressed by readers that take a pro/con approach since they tend to oversimplify complex issues. The essays in the Ellis and Nelson book generally avoid this oversimplification, and the competing perspectives encourage students to think about how both current rules and potential reforms can affect incentives and choices.”

Scott Meinke
Bucknell University
Key features
NEW TO THIS EDITION:
  • Based on extensive feedback from adopters, Ellis and Nelson have added 8 new debate resolutions including such topics as repealing the 22nd amendment, if Americans should receive four more years of free public education, and strengthening national security by having a more transparent government with fewer secrets.
  • Chapters on revision of Article V and Congress restoring each state’s freedom to set its drinking age have been revised.
KEY FEATURES:
  • Brief chapter introductions provide valuable context for each of the debate resolutions.
  • Contributions are written specifically for the volume: essays are both well-suited to undergraduates and are in dialogue with one another.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1


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