Politics

Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting
Rapoport, Miles, E.J. Dionne, and et al. 2020. “Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.” Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Brookings Governance Program . Read the full report Abstract

The Universal Voting Working Group, July 2020 

Imagine an American democracy remade by its citizens in the very image of its promise, a society where the election system is designed to allow citizens to perform their most basic civic duty with ease. Imagine that all could vote without obstruction or suppression. Imagine Americans who now solemnly accept their responsibilities to sit on juries and to defend our country in a time of war taking their obligations to the work of self-government just as seriously. Imagine elections in which 80 percent or more of our people cast their ballots—broad participation in our great democratic undertaking by citizens of every race, heritage and class, by those with strongly-held ideological beliefs, and those with more moderate or less settled views. And imagine how all of this could instill confidence in our capacity for common action.

This report is offered with these aspirations in mind and is rooted in the history of American movements to expand voting rights. Our purpose is to propose universal civic duty voting as an indispensable and transformative step toward full electoral participation. Our nation’s current crisis of governance has focused unprecedented public attention on intolerable inequities and demands that Americans think boldly and consider reforms that until now seemed beyond our reach.

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New report by Voting Rights Advocates, Practitioners, and Scholars Details Need for Universal Civic Duty Voting

July 20, 2020

Washington DC -- In a new report released today, a diverse group of 25 experts in U.S. politics, elections, and civil rights make the case for universal civic duty voting—that is, mandatory participation in elections—in the United States. “...

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Convincing Congress to Remove its Tech Policy Blinders

Harvard: Congress is often criticized for being out of step at best or ignorant at worse on the many technology trends and issues reshaping our society. How did it develop this reputation and is it rooted in reality? 

Graves: While Congress has earned a reputation for lack of tech literacy. it’s important to separate casual gaffes about technical issues—which you might expect from non-specialists in their 60s and 70s—from lack of institutional capacity for effective oversight and legislation. Both of these are problems, but the...

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Science, Technology, & Democracy: Building a Modern Congressional Technology Assessment Office

Zach Graves and Daniel Schuman, January 2020

This paper offers recommendations and a road map for the future success of a restarted technology assessment office in Congress. We look at three potential approaches: (1) Building up the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s OTA-like capacity in its newly created Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics (STAA) team, and giving it greater resources and structural autonomy; (2) Reviving OTA but updating its procedures and statutory authority; and (3) A hybrid approach wherein both GAO and a new OTA develop different capacities and specializations. (Spoiler: we favor the third approach.)
 
The next section of this paper reviews what OTA was and how it functioned. The third section discusses the history of and rationale for the defunding of OTA, other cuts to Congress’s S&T capacity, and why this congressional capacity and expertise matter for democracy. The fourth section reviews efforts to revive OTA and other efforts to build new congressional S&T capacity. The fifth section discusses the political landscape for building S&T capacity, including the legislative branch appropriations process and the different political constituencies for S&T. The final section offers a detailed discussion of various structural recommendations for a new congressional technology assessment office, including an expanded STAA unit in GAO, and a new OTA.
 

Legislative Negotiation Project, May 2018 

The case, a product of the Legislative Negotiation Project, describes how state legislators in Utah, a very conservative state, assembled a “Coalition of the Willing”— Republican and Democratic representatives alongside religious, civic and business leaders—to negotiate a bipartisan compromise to address the emotionally-charged issue of immigration reform in 2010-2011. The case illuminates issues such as: diagnosing the barriers to agreement; understanding the role of the Utah Compact in shaping the negotiation strategy and trajectory of the 2010-2011 legislation; showing how a focus on problem framing brings more people to the table and creates the conditions for buy-in of an acceptable compromise solution.

Mathis, Colleen, Daniel Moskowitz, and Benjamin Schneer. 2019. “The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission: One State's Model for Reform”. Read full paper Abstract

Colleen Mathis, Daniel Moskowitz, and Benjamin Schneer; September 2019 

In most states, redistricting, the process by which electoral district boundaries are drawn, is an overtly partisan exercise controlled by state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2019 decision Rucho v. Common Cause held that federal courts cannot review allegations of partisan gerrymandering. Independent redistricting in practice has proven remarkably successful along several dimensions. This policy brief outlines key lessons learned from redistricting in Arizona, a state with a five-person independent redistricting commission.

Muriel Rouyer, May 2019 

The saga of Brexit, an elusive public policy with shifting objectives but devastating costs, confirms an unpleasant reality: economic interdependence keeps majoritarian will, even that of a sovereign people, in check. Brexit raises the question, fundamental in democracy, of political freedom, which itself calls into question the political community within which freely agreed-upon choices are made.

About

The Legislative Negotiation Project at Harvard Kennedy School was created to develop a range of cases and simulations for teaching legislative negotiation tactics at the state and congressional level. Although legislators come from diverse professional backgrounds and often have considerable experience in negotiation, even the most experienced negotiator can learn from formal training in how to negotiate effectively.  Negotiating in a legislative setting is often far more complex than business negotiation -- and integral to the success of the legislative process.  

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Legislative Negotiation Project, February 2019 

This multimedia case, a product of the Legislative Negotion Project, focuses on the key decision points leading up to the unlikely passage in 2014 of the bipartisan Water for the World Act in the U.S. Congress. It features interviews with members of the House and the Senate, Congressional staffers, advocates and lobbyists. Through seven short videos to be played in class, faculty and students can explore the challenges of bipartisan negotiation in a highly polarized legislative environment, and of strategies to increase the chance for success when the only way to pass legislation is through bipartisanship.

Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism
Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Inglehart. 2019. Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism. Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, Cambridge University Press, February 2019

Authoritarian populist parties have advanced in many countries, and entered government in states as diverse as Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland. Even small parties can still shift the policy agenda, as demonstrated by UKIP's role in catalyzing Brexit. Drawing on new evidence, this book advances a general theory why the silent revolution in values triggered a backlash fuelling support for Authoritarian-Populist parties and leaders in the US and Europe. The conclusion highlights the dangers of this development and what could be done to mitigate the risks to liberal democracy.

Legislative Negotiation Project, January 2019 

This multimedia case, a product of the Legislative Negotiation Project, provides a lively portrait—from multiple points of view—of the creative bipartisan negotiations in both the Oregon House and Senate that ultimately led to passage of the 2017 Equal Pay Act. The case helps participants gain insights on the benefits and risks of bipartisanship, how a culture of bipartisanship is created, and strategies to resolve thorny issues and maintain support from political allies.

Playing by the Informal Rules
Li, Yao. 2018. Playing by the Informal Rules. Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

Yao Li, Cambridge University Press, November 2018  

Growing protests in non-democratic countries are often seen as signals of regime decline. China, however, has remained stable amid surging protests. Playing by the Informal Rules highlights the importance of informal norms in structuring state-protester interactions, mitigating conflict, and explaining regime resilience. Drawing on a nationwide dataset of protest and multi-sited ethnographic research, this book presents a bird's-eye view of Chinese contentious politics and illustrates the uneven application of informal norms across regions, social groups, and time. Through examinations of protests and their distinct implications for regime stability, Li offers a novel theoretical framework suitable for monitoring the trajectory of political contention in China and beyond. Overall, this study sheds new light on political mobilization and authoritarian resilience and provides fresh perspectives on power, rules, legitimacy, and resistance in modern societies.

 

Legislative Negotiation

In this era of increasing polarization, even enemies can negotiate. Indeed for the health of the country political adversaries must learn to negotiate well. Learning the fundamentals of successful negotiation does not have to be limited to the business sector or labor unions, but can also be of tremendous benefit to members of Congress and state legislators across the country. Yet remarkably,...

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