Rethinking Our Democracy
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An unprecedented year of challenges and political upheaval offers the opportunity for reevaluating and reforming our national governing institutions.
As political power shifts, crises take hold, and leaders grapple with how to work together to solve the nation’s problems, the contours of our institutions in Washington—how they’re structured, how they interact, and how they perform under pressure—play a defining role. At these inflection points, it is more important than ever to consider if those institutions measure up to the needs of the American people.
In ‘Rethinking Our Democracy’—a joint initiative between Protect Democracy and the University of Chicago Center for Effective Government launched in the lead up to the 2020 election—we present, refine, and develop momentum for reforms that focus on key institutions that govern our national leadership and policy-making.
In partnership with the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, we publish multi-essay explanatory series discussing reform proposals and new legislative ideas to strengthen democratic institutions and make the case for broad reforms. In addition to written pieces, we convene series authors, key advocates, and partners to discuss the merits of these reforms and the optimal strategies for their advancement.
Congress and the Presidency (2020)
- “Can Congress reclaim authority it has handed over to the president? It’s trying.” by Mort Halperin (Open Society) and Soren Dayton (Protect Democracy)
- “Members of Congress have lost control over spending” by Molly Reynolds (The Brookings Institution)
- “How a stronger presidency could lead to more effective government” by William Howell (University of Chicago) and Terry Moe (Stanford University)
- “Trump won’t cooperate with congressional oversight. Here are Congress’s options.” by Liz Hempowicz (Project on Government Oversight) and Anne Tindall (Protect Democracy)
- “Members of Congress are specializing less often. That makes them less effective.” by Craig Volden (University of Virginia) and Alan E. Wiseman (Vanderbilt University)
- “How Congress is pushing back against Trump’s unprecedented use of emergency powers” by Liza Goitein (Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law)
- “Only Congress has the authority to declare war. Can it take that power back from the presidency?” by Saikrishna Prakash (University of Virginia School of Law)
The Federal Bureaucracy (2021)
- “Civil servants are the last defense against a lawless president. It’s no wonder Trump didn’t trust them.” by Walter Shaub (Project on Government Oversight)
“Democratic presidents regulate. Republican presidents deregulate. Congress could stop the pendulum swing.” by Rachel Augustine Potter (University of Virginia)
“Trump wanted to slash the federal government. But federal agencies are doing just fine.” by David Lewis (Vanderbilt University)
“There’s just one Department of Homeland Security. So why does it have so many bosses in Congress?” by Scott Welder, Christine Kwon, and Jennifer Dresden (Protect Democracy)
- “Biden inherited a broken government. Attracting a new generation of civil servants won’t be easy.” by Rudy Mehrbani (Democracy Fund)
- “The Biden administration still has a lot of vacant positions. It’s a growing problem.” by Anne Joseph O’Connell (Stanford University)
- “Big government vastly expanded presidential power. Republicans use it to sabotage the administrative state.” by William Howell (University of Chicago) and Terry Moe (Stanford University)