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Political Fix: How Do We Get American Politics Back on Track? (NIF Issue Guide)

One of the National Issues Forums Institute’s issue guides, Political Fix: How Do We Get American Politics Back on Track? outlines this critical public issue and several choices or approaches to addressing the issue. National Issues Forums do not advocate a specific solution or point of view, but provide citizens the opportunity to consider a broad range of choices, weigh the pros and cons of those options, and meet with each other in a public dialogue to identify the concerns they hold in common. From the 12-page issue guide's introduction… Political-Fix-CoverThe view that something is amiss in American government is now widely shared. "We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years," say scholars Tomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein, "and never have we seen them this dysfunctional."... Even some elected officials acknowledge they have a problem. "We need to change the way we do business," says Tom Udall, a Democratic senator from New Mexico. "Right now, we have gridlock. We have delay. We have obstruction, and we don't have any accountability." The troubles facing American politics are varied and complex. Observers point to a wide range of developments that, if left unchecked, are likely to further weaken the effectiveness of government. These include:
  • The flood of corporate money into American political campaigns.
  • The growing influence of lobbyists and special interest groups.
  • The increasing polarization and rancor of our political discourse.
  • Structural impediments, such as current redistricting laws that limit ballot choices and skew elections results.
  • The "permanent campaign" that encourages lawmakers to focus on short-term gains instead of long-term solutions.
  • Political leaders acting in their own interests rather than serving the public good.
  • The disengagement of ordinary Americans who turn away from politics in disgust rather than getting involved and making their voices heard.

This issue guide presents three options for consideration:

Option 1: Break the grip of special interests The key to addressing gridlock and dysfuntion in government is to rein in special interests and curb the influence of big money.

Option 2: Increase responsibility Our best hope of fixing American politics is to restore individual responsibility in communities and at every level of government.

Option 3: Fix the mechanisms of politics The mechanisms of government are no longer responsive to the will of the people. We need major structural changes to make the system work as it was intended to.

More about NIF issue guides… NIFI’s issue guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, issue guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit. NIFI offers various materials for each of the issues it produces issue guides on. The moderator guide or “guide to the forums” for each issue is available as a free download. Discussion guides (or “issue guides”) for participants are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). DVD’s can also be purchased for some issues for just $6, for use at the beginning of your forums to introduce the topic and approaches. NIF issue guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/discussion_guides/index.aspx.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/issue_books/detail.aspx?catID=6&itemID=24378

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