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Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop

The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Lee Drutman (Senior Fellow, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation)

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Oxford University Press Inc
16 January 2020
History; Comparative politics; Elections & referenda; Political campaigning & advertising
American democracy is at an impasse. After years of zero-sum partisan trench warfare, our political institutions are deteriorating. Our norms are collapsing. Democrats and Republicans no longer merely argue; they cut off contact with each other. In short, the two-party system is breaking our democracy, and driving us all crazy.

Deftly weaving together history, democratic theory, and cutting edge political science research, Drutman tells the story of how American politics became so toxic, why the country is trapped in a doom loop of escalating two-party warfare, and why it is destroying the shared sense of fairness and legitimacy on which democracy depends. He argues that the only way out is to have more partisanship-more parties, to short-circuit the zero-sum nature of binary partisan conflict. American democracy was once stable because the two parties held within them multiple factions, which made it possible to assemble flexible majorities and kept the temperature of political combat from overheating. But as conservative Southern Democrats and liberal Northeastern Republicans disappeared, partisan conflict flattened and pulled apart. Once the parties fully separated, toxic partisanship took over. With the two parties divided over competing visions of national identity, Democrats and Republicans no longer see each other as opponents, but as enemies. And the more the conflict escalates, the shakier our democracy feels. Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop makes a compelling case for large scale electoral reform-importantly, reform not requiring a constitutional amendment-that would give America more parties, making American democracy more representative, more responsive, and ultimately more stable.
By:   Lee Drutman (Senior Fellow Senior Fellow New America Foundation)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 161mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   618g
ISBN:   9780190913854
ISBN 10:   0190913851
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   16 January 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Lee Drutman is a senior fellow in the Political Reform program at New America. He is the author of The Business of America is Lobbying (Oxford University Press, 2015) and winner of the 2016 American Political Science Association's Robert A. Dahl Award, given for scholarship of the highest quality on the subject of democracy. In addition, he writes regularly for Polyarchy, a Vox blog. Drutman also teaches in the Center for Advanced Governmental Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Reviews for Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America

Lee Drutman is one of our most perceptive political thinkers, and this book is the type of fresh, clear-thinking we need to learn how to live with our age of partisan polarization, rather than simply to complain while it destroys us. --Ezra Klein, Editor-at-Large and Co-Founder, Vox Media American democracy is badly broken, but the enormity of fixing it so often seems impossible. Lee Drutman offers an accessible, lively, and deeply compelling antidote to despair, giving us a new way to think about American political history and to understand what is possible. This is a book of refreshingly big ideas that also provides a pragmatic path forward to a multi-party democracy that works. --Anne Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America Lee Drutman's Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop is a lucid account of how our broken party system has undermined our constitutional order, and how rising ethnic and class antagonisms threaten to make matters worse in the decades to come. Drawing on cutting-edge social science and the wisdom of the founding generation, he offers a series of bold, unconventional reforms designed to foster a healthier, more durable American democracy, and that merit close attention. --Reihan Salam, President, Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of The Atlantic Lee Drutman is one of the foremost students of American politics today. His new book will bring his formidable research to bear on the central issue affecting American democracy, namely, our intense polarization and the possibility that our democracy could break down altogether if it continues to intensify. He goes against conventional wisdom that says parties and partisanship are to blame, but points to the need to open up space beyond our current two-party system. -Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow and Mosbacher Director, Stanford University No one has written in a more penetrating or insightful way about the state of our politics than Lee Drutman. He is able to combine real insights with compelling data and do so in a fashion that professionals appreciate and the lay reader can understand. I have no doubt his book will have broad resonance for a wide range of readers. --Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute Lee Drutman has quickly established himself as a first-rate scholar and public intellectual: deeply learned and with an ambition and capacity to speak to both academics and broader publics. He is at the very top of his cohort in thinking creatively and writing gracefully about the problems of American democracy. His new book is a brilliant analysis of our toxic partisanship and a transformational agenda of electoral reform for breaking out of it. --Thomas Mann, Senior Fellow, Brookings, and Resident Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley Whatever your politics, Lee Drutman's profound and important new book will leave you thinking differently about our polarized moment and the possible paths to recovery. -Yuval Levin, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and Editor of National Affairs Lee Drutman is one of the most shrewd and most creative new voices in political science and an engaged citizen deeply worried about our democracy. Breaking the Two Party Doom Loop is a welcomed recess from gloomy political punditry and offers an evidenced-based solution to challenges we face. I continue to see advantages to two-party systems, but Drutman has offered a rigorous and brilliantly argued case that scrapping it is a national imperative. -E J Dionne, Professor of the Foundations of Democracy and Culture, McCourt School of Public Policy and Government Department, Georgetown University


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