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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:


August 2016 | 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.

Sanford Levinson
Pro: Resolved, Article V should be revised to make it easier to amend the Constitution and to call a constitutional convention
 
Preface
David Kyvig
Con: Resolved, Article V should be revised to make it easier to amend the Constitution and to call a constitutional convention
 
Contributors
Bruce Cain
Pro: Resolved, American democracy needs less sunshine and more closed-door negotations.
 
The Constitution
Gary Bass, Danielle Brian, Norm Eisen
Con: Resolved, American democracy needs less sunshine and more closed-door negotations.
 
1 Resolved, Article V should be revised to make it easier to amend the Constitution and to call a constitutional convention
Brian Weiner
Pro: Resolved, Andrew Jackson should be removed from the $20 bill in favor of Harriet Tubman
PRO:

SANFORD LEVINSON
Mark Cheathem
Con: Resolved, Andrew Jackson should be removed from the $20 bill in favor of Harriet Tubman
CON:

DAVID E. KYVIG
John McCardell
Pro: Resolved, Congress should restore each state’s freedom to set its drinking age
 
Democracy
James Fell
Con: Resolved, Congress should restore each state’s freedom to set its drinking age
 
2 Resolved, American democracy needs less sunshine and more closed-door negotiations
Erika Wood
Pro: Resolved, Congress should pass the Democracy Restoration Act restoring the right to vote in federal elections to people with criminal records
PRO:

BRUCE E. CAIN
Roger Clegg
Con Resolved, Congress should pass the Democracy Restoration Act restoring the right to vote in federal elections to people with criminal records
CON:

GARY D. BASS, DANIELLE BRIAN, AND NORMAN EISEN
Keith Bentele, Erin O'Brien
Con: Resolved, states should enact voter id laws and reduce early voting
 
Culture
Todd Donovan
Pro: Resolved, the United States should adopt a national initiative and referendum
 
3 Resolved, Andrew Jackson should be removed from the $20 bill
Richard Ellis
Con: Resolved, the United States should adopt a national initiative and referendum
PRO:

BRIAN A. WEINER
Martin Wattenberg
Pro: Resolved, the United States should adopt compulsory voting
CON:

MARK CHEATHEM
Jason Brennan
Con: Resolved, the United States should adopt compulsory voting
 
Federalism
John Samples
Pro: Resolved, Congress should remove the caps on the amount that individuals can contribute to candidates for federal office
 
4 Resolved, Congress should restore each state’s freedom to set its drinking age
Caroline Tolbert
Pro: Resolved, political parties should nominate candidates for president in a national primary
PRO:

JOHN MCCARDELL
Richard Briffault
Con: Resolved, Congress should remove the caps on the amount that individuals can contribute to candidates for federal office
CON:

JAMES C. FELL
David Redlawsk
Con: Resolved, political parties should nominate candidates for president in a national primary
 
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
George Edwards
Pro: Resolved, the electoral college should be abolished
 
5 Resolved, Congress should pass the Democracy Restoration Act restoring the right to vote in federal elections to people with criminal records
Jeffrey Lazarus
Con: Resolved,Congress should bring back earmarks for special interest groups
PRO:

ERIKA L. WOOD
John Dilulio
Pro: Resolved, bring back the bureaucrats
CON:

ROGER CLEGG
David Karol
Pro: Resolved, the terms of Supreme Court justices should be limited to 18 years
 
6 Resolved, states should enact voter ID laws and reduce early voting
Michael Nelson
Pro: Resolved, states should enact voter id laws and reduce early voting
PRO:

MICHAEL NELSON
John Pitney
Con: Resolved, the Senate should represent people not states
CON:

KEITH GUNNAR BENTELE AND ERIN O’BRIEN
Michael Colaresi
Pro: Resolved, national security would be strengthened by requiring the government to keep fewer secrets and to become more transparent
 
Political Participation
Douglas Amy
Pro: Resolved, proportional representation should be adopted for U.S. House elections
 
7 Resolved, The United States should adopt a national initiative and referendum
Stephen Knott
Con: Resolved, national security would be strengthened by requiring the government to keep fewer secrets and to become more transparent
PRO:

TODD DONOVAN
Scott Frisch
Pro: Resolved,Congress should bring back earmarks for special interest groups
CON:

RICHARD J. ELLIS
Bruce Oppenheimer
Pro: Resolved, the Senate should represent people not states
 
8 Resolved, The United States should adopt compulsory voting
Ward Farnsworth
Con: Resolved, the terms of Supreme Court justices should be limited to 18 years
PRO:

MARTIN P. WATTENBERG
Steven Smith
Pro: Resolved, Senate Rule XXII should be amended so that filibusters can be ended by a majority vote
CON:

JASON BRENNAN
David Crockett
Pro: Resolved, the 22nd Amendment should be repealed
 
Campaigns and Elections
Elaine Kamarck
Pro: Resolved, the redistricting process should be nonpartisan
 
9 Resolved, Congress should remove the caps on the amount that individuals can contribute to candidates for federal office
Brendan Doherty
Con: Resolved, proportional representation should be adopted for U.S. House elections
PRO:

JOHN SAMPLES
Sean Kelly
Pro: Resolved, earmarks for special interests should be abolished
CON:

RICHARD BRIFFAULT
Justin Buchler
Con: Resolved, the redistricting process should be nonpartisan
 
Political Parties
Michael Nelson
Pro: Resolved, the president should be granted a line item veto
 
10 Resolved, political parties should nominate candidates for president in a national primary
Brad DeWees
Con: Resolved, bring back the spoils system
PRO:

CAROLINE J. TOLBERT
Gary Gregg
Con: Resolved, the electoral college should be abolished
CON:

DAVID P. REDLAWSK
Wendy Schiller
Con: Resolved, Senate Rule XXII should be amended so that filibusters can be ended by a majority vote
 
Interest Groups
Neal McCluskey
Con: Resolved, Americans should receive four more years of free public education
 
11 Resolved, Congress should bring back earmarks
Robert Samuels
Pro: Resolved, Americans should receive four more years of free public education
PRO:

SCOTT A. FRISCH AND SEAN Q KELLY
Robert Spitzer
Con: Resolved, the president should be granted a line item veto
CON:

JEFFREY LAZARUS
Mike Korzi
Con: Resolved, the 22nd Amendment should be repealed
 
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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