Suzanne Mettler & Robert C. Lieberman – Four Threats

Polarization has become known as the great challenge for American Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. Suzanne Mettler and Robert Lieberman include it among their Four Threats. So long as polarization is portrayed as a problem, the solution remains simple, although difficult to achieve. The solution to polarization is described as compromise and moderation. But what... Continue Reading →

E.B. White – On Democracy

My kids know E.B. White as the author of Charlotte’s Web. Both of my kids were expected to read this classic on their own. Some books are written for children to read rather than their parents to read to them. I held off reading The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham until... Continue Reading →

Podcast Ep. 9 – John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch

  John Gastil and Katherine Knobloch are the authors of Hope for Democracy: How Citizens Can Bring Reason Back into Politics. Their book explains an experiment in democracy called the Citizens' Initiative Review (CIR). It incorporated the idea of delegative democracy into the initiative referendum process in Oregon. Everyday citizens were brought together to discuss... Continue Reading →

Episode 7: Joshua J. Dyck and Edward L. Lascher, Jr

In the seventh episode Joshua (Josh) and Edward (Ted) Lascher join me for a conversation about what they describe as "Direct Democracy's Secondary Effects." Their recent book Initiatives without Engagement focus on the effects of popular initiatives. An initiative is a distinct form of referendum where citizens propose a law or policy change typically through... Continue Reading →

Werner Sombart – Why is there no Socialism in the United States

The campaign of Bernie Sanders was destined for failure. The American public has long rejected socialism as a political ideology despite its widespread embrace of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance. The irony is redistributive programs have largely buttressed the capitalist system. They offer enough security to maintain widespread support for capitalism... Continue Reading →

Seymour Martin Lipset – Continental Divide

Let us get past the surface level topics which Continental Divide revolves. It is easy to become distracted in Lipset’s depiction of Canada and America. He recognized both societies had undergone dramatic change throughout the twentieth century that transformed their political images. The book is now thirty years old. It’s almost as old as I... Continue Reading →

Alexis De Tocqueville – Democracy in America

Alexis de Tocqueville saw democracy as a dynamic political system. While it required specific cultural requirements for the people, it imposed many of those requirements onto the people. It gradually became self-sustaining whereas the monarchies of the Ancien Régime established conditions unfavorable for a sustainable democratic culture. Tocqueville did not believe democracy was limited to... Continue Reading →

Robert Putnam – Bowling Alone

The line between the political and the nonpolitical within a democracy is never clear. Alexis de Tocqueville noticed how politics became a common part of life for the average person. Civic engagement shifts from the activities of an organization into the demands of the community without any interruption. Robert Putnam follows a long tradition of... Continue Reading →

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