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New Democracy Forum Series

Found in Domestic Politics
Reflecting All of Us by Robert Richie
Can Working Families Ever Win? by Jody Heymann
Who Defended The Country? by Elaine Scarry

New Democracy Forum Series : Titles in Order

Book 16
Through a minute-by-minute analysis of the phone calls, official reports, responses, and reported actions of passengers on two hijacked flights, United Airlines 93 (which crashed in Pennsylvania) and American Airlines 77 (which crashed into the Pentagon), Elaine Scarry offers a dramatic retelling of their fate and some startling conclusions. Leading off a provocative debate, she asks if the difficulty we had as a country in defending ourselves on September 11 suggests serious flaws in our national security. The need to act in’a matter of minutes’ has been invoked to justify military arrangements increasingly outside the citizenry’s control, yet the only successful defense on September 11 was carried out, after a vote, by the passengers themselves on hijacked Flight 93.

Arguments made at the time of the writing of the Constitution judged that the only plausible way to defend the home ground was to have actions measured against the norms of civilian life: the military had to be’held within a civil frame.’ Scarry asks, have we strayed too far from this model? Does our authoritarian conception of national defense diminish our capacity to protect ourselves? Is it legal? Is it moral? Responding to her argument are nine prominent thinkers and writers from across the political spectrum, including Richard Falk, Ellen Willis, Admiral Eugene Carroll, and Antonia Chayes.
Book 15
Jody Heymann takes on the American belief that creating a better life for your children is simply a matter of working hard. She argues that poor parents don’t have a fair chance. Because our nation fails to provide essential supports, it is virtually impossible for these individuals to succeed at work while caring well for their children. Because of the twin demands of work and family that poor parents face, the health and education of their children suffer. These kids often lack adequate preschool childcare or school-age care, which reduces their own potential to succeed.

Heymann shows how intergenerational poverty is perpetuated by outdated labor policies and suggests what must be done to help families. A wide range of thinkers respond.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.

“A civic treasure. . . . A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.” –Robert Pinsky
Book 14
After the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, American flags appeared everywhere. Is patriotism a good response at a time of national crisis? What does it mean for us to think of ourselves as a nation first?

With our connections to the world growing stronger and more vital than ever, Martha C. Nussbaum argues that we should distrust conventional patriotism as parochial and instead see ourselves first of all as “citizens of the world.” Sixteen prominent writers and thinkers respond, including Benjamin R. Barber, Sissela Bok, Nathan Glazer, Robert Pinsky, Elaine Scarry, Amartya Sen, and Michael Walzer.

NEW DEMOCRACY FORUM
A series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns. The series editors (for Boston Review), Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, aim to foster politically engaged, intellectually honest, and morally serious debate about fundamental issues-both on and off the agenda of conventional politics.
Book 13
In this election year, health care again proves to be one of our nation’s most urgent issues. Daniels, Kennedy, and Kawachi shift the focus of the debate, forcing us to take a closer look at how our health is affected by social injustice and inequality. Arguing that it isn’t enough to increase access to doctors, they call for improving social conditions-such as poverty, lack of education and affordable housing, and harmful work environments-that damage our health. By urging us to work toward equality of opportunity for all, the authors situate health care reform among the larger social problems we must face.

The authors’ argument for reform in early childhood development, nutrition, work environment, and distribution of income is certain to spark debate. The editor of The New England Journal of Medicine and World Health Organization officials respond.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.

“A civic treasure. . . . A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.” –Robert Pinsky
Book 12
Affirmative action originated as a plan to correct the historical disadvantage of women and people of color-to make the system more fair. Yet, for over twenty years, it has been repeatedly attacked for being unfair to whites, and even un-American.

Guinier and Sturm begin with a critique of affirmative action as it stands now, arguing that a system of selection that determines ‘qualification’ from test scores and then adds on factors like race and gender doesn’t work-either for the people it includes or the people it leaves out. But they go further, asking us to rethink how we evaluate merit.

Marshaling lively examples from education and the workplace, they expose the failure of tests to predict success. They provide evidence that people’s success depends on the opportunities they have to perform, and that institutions do best when they are open to unanticipated contributions. Offering a model of selection based on performance, not prediction, the authors’ reconception of an old ideal suggests at once a smart business practice and a step toward the promise of democratic opportunity. Paul Osterman, Stephen Steinberg, Peter Sacks, and others respond.

NEW DEMOCRACY FORUM
A series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns. The series editors (for Boston Review), Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, aim to foster politically engaged, intellectually honest, and morally serious debate about fundamental issues-both on and off the agenda of conventional politics.
Book 11
Now let us use our heads and deal appropriately, as they say in Washington, with a corporate ruling class that has hijacked the nation, and in so doing eliminate at least one glaring contradiction: that ours is a government of, by, and for the many when it is so notoriously the exclusive preserve of the few. –Gore Vidal, from the Foreword

In recent years, many voters have wondered whose voices are actually heard by our elected representatives. As the cost of running competitive political campaigns escalates and politicians appeal increasingly to wealthy interests to finance election bids, voters in many states have passed, or are primed to vote on, campaign finance initiatives.

In Are Elections for Sale?, David Donnelly, Janice Fine, and Ellen S. Miller argue that only full public funding of campaigns can ensure democratic elections, and they review the successes some states have had with the Clean Elections Act.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.
Book 10
Democracy takes place when the silent find their voice, and when we begin to listen to what they have to say. –Lani Guinier, from the Foreword

In Whose Vote Counts?, Robert Richie and Steven Hill listen to what the silent are saying. They argue that we need a new way of electing our representatives to combat voter apathy and the leveling of political views. Such a system already exists in many parts of the world, including places in the United States: proportional representation. Leading activists respond in essays that illustrate what our country could look like if all qualified citizens became voters, and if they all felt their vote contributed to more than just the winning or losing tally.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.
Book 9
Our politicians insist that we live in a time of unprecedented prosperity, yet more and more Americans are pointing out that the richest 1% of our society holds more wealth than the bottom 90% put together. In this timely book, economist Philippe Van Parijs has a simple plan for addressing not only poverty but other social ills: everyone would be paid a universal basic income (UBI) at a level sufficient for subsistence. Everyone, including “those who make no social contribution-who spend their mornings bickering with their partner, surf off Malibu in the afternoon, and smoke pot all night.”

Van Parijs argues that a UBI would reduce unemployment, improve women’s lives, and prevent the environmental damage caused by overproduction and fast growth. At the heart of his proposal is the intention to secure real freedom for all, because it offers the greatest possible opportunity to those with the least opportunities. He acknowledges that an idle surfer might not deserve a UBI, but that the surfer’s good luck would be no different than the good fortune enjoyed by those who benefit from the current distribution of resources.

Responses to this controversial proposal vary: Some are in favor of a basic income, but only if it’s tied to work. Others find the entire proposal unrealistic and unaffordable. Almost all agree, however, that it is time for us to talk about this issue.

NEW DEMOCRACY FORUM: A series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns. The series editors (for Boston Review), Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, aim to foster politically engaged, intellectually honest, and morally serious debate about fundamental issues-both on and off the agenda of conventional politics.
Book 8
Americans take for granted that ours is the very model of a democracy. At the core of this belief is the assumption that the right to vote is firmly established. But in fact, the United States is the only major democratic nation in which the less well-off, the young, and minorities are substantially underrepresented in the electorate.

Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward were key players in the long battle to reform voter registration laws that finally resulted in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the Motor Voter law). When Why Americans Don’t Vote was first published in 1988, this battle was still raging, and their book was a fiery salvo. It demonstrated that the twentieth century had witnessed a concerted effort to restrict voting by immigrants and blacks through a combination of poll taxes, literacy tests, and unwieldy voter registration requirements.

Why Americans Still Don’t Vote brings the story up to the present. Analyzing the results of voter registration reform, and drawing compelling historical parallels, Piven and Cloward reveal why neither of the major parties has tried to appeal to the interests of the newly registered-and thus why Americans still don’t vote.
Book 6
Juliet Schor breaks a taboo by exposing Americans’ shopping habits to moral society. Schor disapproves of unfettered private consumption, not only because we already use up so much, but also because overspending to bolster a sense of self does not lead to happiness. Along with her critique, Schor suggests intriguing ideas for making ‘status’ goods accessible for all–for example, imposing high taxes on expensive items to subsidize lines of affordable ‘luxury’ goods. A firestorm of responses follow from economist Robert Frank and others.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.

“A civic treasure. . . . A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.” –Robert Pinsky
Book 5
Somewhere. . . there is a place of sanity where education is intense and substantive. . . . It’s in that place that Deborah Meier has been working all these years. Her voice conveys a life of struggle in the front lines-victories and losses, hopes and disappointments. . . . It’s a voice our nation needs to hear. –Jonathan Kozol, from the Foreword

Acclaimed educator Deborah Meier offers a fresh take on standardized tests. While others have criticized standards and what they measure, Meier rejects the very idea of a centralized authority that dictates how and what teachers teach. Standardization, she argues, prevents citizens-including teachers-from emerging as thoughtful, responsible adults, seriously engaged with shaping their own schools, classrooms, and communities. As a result, young people can’t learn from them how to be thoughtful, responsible adults and good citizens, the primary goal of public education in a democracy.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.

“A civic treasure. . . . A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.” –Robert Pinsky
Book 4
The future of America is the future of our cities. Restoring their health and wealth is the key to advancing racial justice, to raising and equalizing wages, to promoting equal opportunity, to saving our environment….I urge you to read and consider Metro Futures.–The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., from the Foreword

Metro Futures shifts the discussion of urban issues from despair over inner-city problems to solutions that link urban and suburban well-being. With its specific state and federal policy recommendations, Metro Futures offers timely hope for meaningful change.

“The New Democracy Forum series is a civic treasure….A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.”–Robert Pinsky

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.
Book 4
Tracey Meares and Dan Kahan have performed a great public service….[They have] opened up a major debate on a promising idea about how to keep streets safe without throwing out essential legal safeguards. If you live where I live, you know that’s a life-and-death issue. –The Reverend Eugene F. Rivers, 3d, from the Foreword

Through a searching examination of the constitutional and moral issues of community policing, Tracey Meares and Dan Kahan challenge us to reconsider our ideas about how to fight urban crime and about the role of rights in a democracy. Activists and legal scholars-including Alan Dershowitz and Jean Bethke Elshtain-offer spirited responses.

“The New Democracy Forum series is a civic treasure….A truly good idea, carried out with intelligence and panache.” –Robert Pinsky

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.
Book 2
The acute desire to close American borders to new arrivals, mostly persons of color from developing countries, has surfaced in school board gatherings, town hall meetings, gubernatorial races, even presidential elections. . . . Does America still see itself as the ‘land of immigrants’? Why not . . . invest in the survival and progress of all immigrants?–Edwidge Danticat, from the Foreword

In this timely book, Owen Fiss examines the paradox of new immigrants being stripped of their rights within a democracy committed to equality. Arguing that it is in the interest of all of us-citizens and citizens-to-be-to live up to the promise of our Constitution, Fiss challenges the courts to invoke the courage they once brought to landmark civil rights cases and to apply it now to preserve a community of equals. Distinguished scholars and activists respond and debate the implications of Fiss’s argument.

The New Democracy Forum is a series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns.
Book 1
A lively dialogue on the power of electoral reform to strengthen our democratic institutions

Scholars, critics, reformers, politicians, and activists have for years asked why Americans are so uninvolved in the political process. Minority underrepresentation, the marginalization of progressive voices, the exclusion of the poor-these and other serious problems appear everywhere, from the pages of national newspapers to MTV.

Robert Richie and Steven Hill offer a powerful solution, one currently in practice in many parts of the world, including places in the U.S.: proportional representation. They demonstrate that unlike the winner-takes-all system, which always leaves the losers completely unrepresented, proportional representation gives all points of view a political voice; it works by giving citizens multiple votes or the right to vote for more than one candidate, or by giving political parties power according to percentages of votes received.

Esteemed thinkers-Cynthia McKinney, John Ferejohn, E. Joshua Rosenkrantz, Gary W. Cox, Daniel Cantor, Ross Mirkarimi, Anthony Thig penn, and Pamela S. Karlan-respond in essays discussing the forms proportional representation could take to operate best in the U.S. Their contributions underscore the concept at the heart of this book: the more people invested in the political process, the more democratic-and reflective of all of us-our system becomes.

NEW DEMOCRACY FORUM: A series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns. The series editors (for Boston Review), Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, aim to foster politically engaged, intellectually honest, and morally serious debate about fundamental issues-both on and off the agenda of conventional politics.
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