Debating Reform: Conflicting Perspectives on How to Fix the American Political System / Edition 1

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More About This Textbook


As much as policy topics like abortion and same-sex marriage elicit spirited reactions from your students, aren't you looking for ways to get them out of their partisan corners? Ellis and Nelson have found that debating concrete proposals for reforming the political system encourages undergraduates to leave ideology behind and instead sift through competing claims and evidence.

Connecting classroom conversation directly to political institutions, students not only grapple with reform ideas but also join the discussion without the crutch of personal opinion. With pro and con pieces written specifically for this volume, readers consider and evaluate arguments from top scholars, thoughtfully exploring the ways government could work better.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604265521
  • Publisher: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Contributors xv

The Constitution

1 Resolved, Article V should be revised to make it easier to amend the Constitution and to call a constitutional convention 1

Pro Sanford Levinson 5

Con David E. Kyvig 11


2 Resolved, Congress should restore each state's freedom to set its drinking age 19

Pro John McCardell 21

Con James C. Fell 28

Public Opinion and Political Participation

3 Resolved, the United States should adopt a national initiative and referendum 36

Pro Todd Donovan 39

Con Richard J. Ellis 46

The Media

4 Resolved, broadcasters should be charged a spectrum fee to finance programming in the public interest 53

Pro Norman J. Ornstein 55

Con Adam D. Thierer 62

Political Parties

5 Resolved, political parties should nominate candidates for president in a national primary 70

Pro Caroline J. Tolbert 72

Con David P. Redlawsk 79


6 Resolved, the electoral college should be abolished 86

Pro George C. Edwards III 88

Con Daniel H. Lowenstein 96

7 Resolved, proportional representation should be adopted for U.S. House elections 103

Pro Douglas J. Amy 105

Con Mark E. Rush 112

Interest Groups

8 Resolved, the “no cup of coffee” rule should be adopted in Washington 119

Pro Burdett Loomis 122

Con Anthony J. Nownes 129

House of Representatives

9 Resolved, the size of the House of Representatives should be increased to 675 seats 135

Pro Brian Frederick 138

Con C. Lawrence Evans Nicholas J. Bell 144

10 Resolved, the redistricting process should be nonpartisan 151

Pro Michael P. Mcdonald 154

Con Justin Buchler 161


11 Resolved, the Senate should represent people, not states 172

Pro Bruce I. Oppenheimer 174

Con John J. Pitney Jr. 180

12 Resolved, Senate Rule XXII should be amended so that filibusters can be ended by a majority vote 187

Pro Steven S. Smith 189

Con Wendy J. Schiller 196


13 Resolved, the president should be granted a line item veto 204

Pro Michael Nelson 207

Con Robert J. Spitzer 212


14 Resolved, the government should scale back the outsourcing of government jobs to private contractors 219

Pro Charles T. Goodsell 222

Con E. S. Savas 229


15 Resolved, the terms of Supreme Court justices should be limited to eighteen years 237

Pro Steven G. Calabresi James Lindgren 239

Con Ward Farnsworth 245

Civil Liberties

16 Resolved, the United States should adopt an “emergency constitution” to preserve civil liberties in an age of terrorism 251

Pro Bruce Ackerman 254

Con Patrick O. Gudridge 259

Civil Rights

17 Resolved, residents who are not citizens should be granted the right to vote 265

Pro Ron Hayduk 267

Con Stanley A. Renshon 274

Domestic Policy

18 Resolved, the government should require national service for all youth 282

Pro Robert E. Litan 285

Con Tod Lindberg 291

Economic Policy

19 Resolved, the federal government should ensure that no firm is too big to fail 297

Pro Lawrence G. Baxter 300

Con Terence M. Hynes 306

Foreign and Defense Policy

20 Resolved, Congress should pass the War Powers Consultation Act 314

Pro Nancy Kassop 316

Con William G. Howell 324

Notes 333

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