Cure for Our Broken Political Process (The) How We Can Get Our Politicians to Resolve the Issues Tearing Our Country Apart

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Record numbers of Americans fear that our political process is broken — for good reason. Our nation faces unprecedented challenges, yet our politicians spend most of their energy attacking one another. All the while, no one in public life has offered a practical way to neutralize the bitter partisanship that paralyzes Washington.

Firmly grounded in negotiation and consensus-building theory, The Cure for Our Broken Political Process fills that void. The authors show exactly how concerned citizens can get politicians from all camps to negotiate genuine solutions to the most vexing issues. Sol Erdman and Lawrence Susskind base their case on their decades of experience in resolving political conflict.

The Cure for Our Broken Political Process begins with hard evidence that our country could work out practical solutions to nearly every major issue that now divides us, solutions that all sides could support. Why, then, don't our politicians seek out those solutions? The authors debunk all the accepted explanations and then uncover the real reason. By telling the story of a concerned citizen who runs for Congress, the book shows that two basic features of our elections virtually compel politicians to bicker endlessly over major problems. So, as long as our elections work as they do today, our lawmakers will keep on fighting, leaving the critical issues unresolved.

The authors then spell out how to redesign elections so that politicians would win only if they produced useful results — only if they negotiated practical solutions to pressing problems. The book concludes with a step-by-step plan proving that ordinary citizens have the power to bring about these changes. To anyone who fears that the future of the United States is in peril, The Cure offers a realistic path to a political process they can genuinely believe in.



Introduction: The Change That Can Transform Our Political Life

Part I: Politics at Its Best

1. How Do Outsiders Solve Problems that Politicians Won't?

2. How to Resolve Any Issue – As Well As Humanly Possible

3. Could Politicians Negotiate Best Solutions


Part II: Why Our Lawmakers Betray Us

4. Each Lawmaker's Predicament: Whom Do I Represent?

5. How Did American Politics Get So Dysfunctional?

6. Each District as Diverse as the Whole United States

7. Why Do Most Voters Feel So Powerless?

8. While Most of Us Sleep, Congress Does Its Worst

9. Does the Current System Threaten Our Survival?

10. Big Changes Can Happen


Part III: How to Get Politicians We Can Believe In

11. Make Each Representative Accountable…for Real

12. How Ideologically Diverse Do We Want Our Politicians to Be?

13. Cementing the bond Between Citizens and Lawmakers

14. Answering Skeptics

15. How America Could Reach Consensus

16. Practical First Steps

17. A Decade from Now: Our Rejuvenated Democracy

18. Epilogue: Back to Here and Now – What You Can Do



Sol Erdman is president of the Center for Collaborative Democracy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has developed innovative ways for citizens and politicians to resolve ideological conflicts.

Lawrence Susskind is director of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program. He has mediated national policy debates, refereed regional political battles, and helped negotiated international treaties, including the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Cure for Our Broken Political Process (The) Attributes

Author: Sol Erdman & Lawrence Susskind
Publisher: Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2008