It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How The American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics of Extremism. Mann, Thomas E. and Norman J. Ornstein. New York, Basic Books, 2013, pp. 248, $16.99 (pb), ISBN 978-0-465-07473-0.
Review published in Public Administration Review in November 2014. Also available on SSRN.
In this book, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein provide a sobering description of how politics in Washington has coarsened over the span of a generation. Today, the authors warn, “America’s capacity to govern” is under threat (Mann and Ornstein 2013, xvii). They have some practical suggestions on how to make Washington work better. But the remedies may be unequal to the underlying problem: a profound shift in the structure of American politics, and attitudes about the role of the federal government in American life. Read more
The Fall 2014 issue of n+1 magazine includes a review essay by Jamie Martin discussing The End of Protest and The Logic of Discipline. “The 2008 crash and its aftermath have amounted, as the legal scholar Alasdair Roberts argues in The End of Protest, to little more than a ‘quiet crisis.'” Read the review.
In the June 2 issue of The Nation, Thomas Meaney and Yascha Mounk write an essay on the state of democracy that discusses The Logic of Discipline and several other books. “There are three principal reasons for democracy’s deepening crisis of legitimacy,” write Meaney and Mounk. “The first is rooted in what Alasdair Roberts has called the ‘logic of discipline,’ which refers to the strictures that the draftsmen of global capitalism introduced into the blueprints of national governments during the past three decades.” Read the essay.
I’ve just finished a review of “Tocqueville’s Nightmare: The Administrative State Emerges in America, 1900-1940,” by Daniel Ernst. The review is forthcoming in Public Administration Review. Read the review.
My review of The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar has just been published on Early View for Public Administration Review. I focus on the way in which this technological shock shaped American government. “The current fashion is to emphasize the ways in which ideology and institutional inertia constrain the governmental response to such shocks. But Wolmar tells a different story. In the long run, The Great Railroad Revolution suggests, the governmental response to this innovation was pragmatic, hard-headed, and flexible.” A draft of the review is also posted on SSRN.
In the current issue of New Left Review, Tom Mertes reviews America’s First Great Depression. “Roberts provides a striking picture of the decade’s economic woes, drawing extensively on contemporary commentaries from both sides of the Atlantic and informed by a vivid sense of American geography.” Read the review.