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The Spirit of Compromise : Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It
by Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson

Overview - If politics is the art of the possible, then compromise is the artistry of democracy. Unless one partisan ideology holds sway over all branches of government, compromise is necessary to govern for the benefit of all citizens. A rejection of compromise biases politics in favor of the status quo, even when the rejection risks crisis.  Read more...

 
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More About The Spirit of Compromise by Amy Gutmann; Dennis Thompson
 
 
 
Overview
If politics is the art of the possible, then compromise is the artistry of democracy. Unless one partisan ideology holds sway over all branches of government, compromise is necessary to govern for the benefit of all citizens. A rejection of compromise biases politics in favor of the status quo, even when the rejection risks crisis. Why then is compromise so difficult in American politics today? In The Spirit of Compromise, eminent political thinkers Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson connect the rejection of compromise to the domination of campaigning over governing - the permanent campaign - in American democracy today. They show that campaigning for political office calls for a mindset that blocks compromise - standing tenaciously on principle to mobilize voters and mistrusting opponents in order to defeat them. Good government calls for an opposite cluster of attitudes and arguments - the compromising mindset - that inclines politicians to adjust their principles and to respect their opponents.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780691153919
  • ISBN-10: 0691153914
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publish Date: April 2012
  • Page Count: 279


Related Categories

Books > Political Science > Political Process - General
Books > Political Science > American Government - General
Books > Political Science > Political Ideologies - Democracy

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2012-03-05
  • Reviewer: Staff

Nonstop electioneering and the attitudes it fosters has given us a logjam in Washington instead of a government, argues this bland brief for a principled pragmatism. UPenn president and political scientist Gutmann and Harvard political philosopher Thompson (coauthors of Democracy and Disagreement) blame partisan gridlock on the “permanent campaign”—politicians’ need to constantly position themselves for the next election by staking out bright-line dogmas and demonizing opponents. The result is an “uncompromising mindset” of nonnegotiable tenacity, mistrust, and cynicism that’s antithetical to the “compromising mindset” of prudent give and take, mutual respect, and cooperation that good governance requires. The lucid but dry discussion mixes political theory—uncompromising standoffs, they contend, help no one’s interests and privilege the status quo over feasible improvements—with recaps of congressional dogfights, along with half-measure remedies, like making it easier to vote so that moderates will swamp zealots at the polls. Their case for the importance of compromise is impeccably high-minded and logical, but doesn’t quite register the atavistic force of intransigence, or that sabotaging government might be the goal, not the by-product, of a faction’s immovability. Gutmann and Thompson’s take on America’s intense political rancor amounts to a set of truisms—familiar and unarguable, but somehow beside the point. (May)

 
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