Democracy and Dysfunction

In Democracy and Dysfunction (University of Chicago Press, 2019) Sanford Levinson and I exchange a series of letters about the causes of America’s current political dysfunction and how to fix our political system. The letters begin in 2015 and go through the beginning of 2018. Along the way we discuss the rise of Donald Trump, the 2016 election, and how recent events exemplify deeper problems in the design and functioning of the American constitutional system. Levinson argues that our Constitution is seriously defective and calls for a set of new amendments or a new constitutional convention, while I argue that we are suffering from constitutional rot and that there are less radical solutions.  The book is a debate over whether the current problems of American politics arise from the Constitution’s “hard-wired” features, or whether they arise from the party system, economic inequality, and political culture. It also debates whether the cure for these problems must lie in new amendments or a constitutional convention, or whether there are reforms that do not require constitutional amendment.