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




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.

PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.