Not a thing! This is what Dr. Anthony Gierzynski (University of Vermont), author of the widely praised Saving the American Elections: A Diagnosis and Prescription for a Healthier Democracy (Cambria Press, 2011), predicts based on his research. Read Dr. Gierzynski’s commentary below:
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Malfunctioning Elections and Gridlock: Why the 2014 and 2016 Elections Won’t Solve a Thing
The extreme extent to which politicians are willing to go in the political game of chicken they are playing with the public good suggests that the gridlock gripping our political system is a more virulent form than the gridlock of the past. How has our democracy come to this? While some may wish to blame our current crop of politicians or argue that it is the media’s fault for polarizing politics so, a more complete explanation is found in the current condition of elections in the U.S.
Elections are critical to provide the one factor that can resolve political conflict—legitimacy for the policy positions politicians take—and they fail miserably at doing so in the U.S. Elections are failing to provide that legitimacy because of decades of weak and/or irrational electoral laws, bad democratic planning, twisted electoral incentives, a profit-driven media, and a culture that fails to encourage informed and skeptical citizenship.
Absent any changes (and there are none in sight) the 2014 and 2016 elections will do nothing to break the gridlock. We have seen over the past years that personalities cannot break the gridlock, nor can elections results that give majorities to one party (a majority of voters in 2012 voted for Democratic candidates for President, US Senate and US House). Additionally, the media is too busy chasing after profits, too tamed by politicians, and too discouraged by the here-we-are-now-entertain-us citizens of today to make any difference. Without major reforms, the US political system is not going to get better.
In Saving American Elections: A Diagnosis and Prescription for a Healthier Democracy I offer a big-picture assessment of US elections (the entire electoral structure from national to local) and of the problems that are making US elections malfunction—including the media, election law, the behavior of politicians, and the broader culture. Following the diagnosis, I discuss the reforms that make the most sense given what is wrong and what we as a science know about elections.
As the discipline of political science matures, we are beginning to have the opportunity to utilize our accumulated research findings to conduct more systemic analyses of our political institutions and use such system analyses to speak to the problems of politics today. That is the purpose of the analysis in Saving American Elections.
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This book is in the Politics, Institutions, and Public Policy in America book series by Scott Frisch and Sean Kelly.
Professors, if you would like to use this for your class, refer your librarian to the Cambria Press Desk Copy Plus Program that helps you get free versions for your students!
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