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Recent Articles

Debate: Making American Democracy Representative

Two knowledgeable commentators respond to Benjamin Page & Martin Gilens’s argument in the Prospect for ranked-choice voting, proportional representation, and the abolition of primaries.

starr_headshot.jpg I n their article in the Fall 2018 issue of The American Prospect , “ Making American Democracy Representative ,” Benjamin I. Page and Martin Gilens argue that the way we vote for Congress has contributed to a highly polarized and unrepresentative government. In place of the current system, they call for three reforms to elections for the U.S. House of Representatives: ranked-choice voting, the abolition of primaries, and proportional representation in multi-member districts. This is a big, long-term agenda. Do Page and Gilens have the right ideas about how to reform voting? And do they have their priorities right? Two commentators address these questions. Drew Penrose is the legal and policy director of FairVote. Miles Rapoport is a long-time democracy advocate who served as Connecticut’s secretary of state and president of both Dēmos and Common Cause. He is the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center of the Kennedy School at Harvard and a...

Event: On the Global Crisis of Democracy

Cal Sport Media via AP Images
Cal Sport Media via AP Images Marchers hold their signs high during the March for Racial Justice from Lincoln Park to the Capital in Washington. O n October 5 and 6, the Albert Shanker Institute is hosting a conference, co-sponsored by the Prospect and other progressive publications and organizations, on the global crisis of democracy. Intellectuals and activists from the United States, China, South Africa, Germany, Israel, Hungary, and Austria will discuss the rise of the nationalist-populist right, the growth of economic inequality and the shrinking legitimacy of political institutions, the rise of nativism and racism, and how best to counter these threats to democracy and decency. Prospect editors Bob Kuttner and Harold Meyerson are among the speakers. THE CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY Thursday, Oct. 5, 3:00 p.m. to Friday, Oct. 6, 5:00 p.m. Washington Court Hotel, Atrium Ballroom 525 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 The conference is free, registration is required. REGISTER HERE...

The White Working Class

An American, and a Democratic, dilemma

AP Photo/Eric Gay
AP Photo/Eric Gay A worker uses a lift to move rolls of sheet metal at LMS International, in Laredo, Texas. wwc_homepage_logo-3.jpg W ith our partners at The Democratic Strategist , The American Prospect is co-publishing this series of articles on one of the most contentious topics in today’s political discourse, and one of progressives’ and the Democratic Party’s most vexing problems: the white working class (WWC). The need for such a discussion is both obvious and twofold. First, the white working class—the bedrock of the long-vanished New Deal Coalition—has largely and increasingly been abandoning the Democratic Party, even when that has meant voting against some of its economic interests. While Hillary Clinton’s loss of such presumably blue-wall states as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania dramatized the extent of the Democrats’ problem, it was also just the latest stage of an epochal shift. Wisconsin, after all, has a wall-to-wall reactionary state government, with Scott...

What States and Cities Can Do To Fight Climate Change

Today, the Prospect is posting Ben Adler’s long-form piece, which also appears in the spring issue of our print magazine, on how states and cities are moving ahead on policies that limit climate change, and what they’re doing to counter the Trump administration’s policies that will make climate change even more severe.

As Ben points out, the regulations and standards for utility companies are set by states and in some cases, by municipalities. In the coastal states with Democratic governments—extending from Massachusetts to Maryland in the east, and California to Washington (with Hawaii thrown in for good measure) in the west—governments have set Renewable Portfolio Standards for their utilities that mandate transitions away from the use of coal and conversion to entirely renewable forms of energy over the next couple of decades. California and Washington have required new buildings to meet energy efficiency standards, through the use, for instance, of rooftop solar panels.

For their part, cities with progressive governments (which far outnumber states with such governments) have in recent years appropriated funds for light rail lines, bike paths, and other forms of transportation that provide alternatives to autos. And following the pattern set by new EPA chief Scott Pruitt when he was the much-beloved-by-oil-companies attorney general of Oklahoma, such enviro-conscious state attorneys general as New York’s Eric Schneiderman have announced they’ll be suing the federal government when it moves to undo long established environmental protections and climate-change legislation.

You can read the article in full here.

A Close Look at Education Reform in Washington, D.C.

Today, The American Prospect published a feature story by Rachel Cohen on D.C. school reform. The District of Columbia has been cast as one of the nation’s most successful examples of education reform. Over the last decade, the city has significantly expanded charter schooling and implemented a new teacher evaluation system based in part on student test scores. The Obama administration repeatedly touted D.C.’s new school policies, and states across the country looked to the nation’s capital as a model to emulate.

Proponents of D.C.’s new school policies say there is clear evidence that the reforms are working, but critics say the success narratives have been blown way out of proportion. Here are other key takeaways from Cohen's story:

  • Racial achievement gaps have narrowed in D.C. since 2003, but they remain large, and socioeconomic achievement gaps have widened.
     
  • Researchers say that accessing data to study the effectiveness of D.C. school reform has been quite difficult. City leaders and DCPS officials have often been resistant to the idea of rigorous, independent evaluations, and the lack of transparency has created confusion over how effective or ineffective D.C.’s school reforms have actually been.
     
  • Some local researchers and education advocates want to see the government establish an agency—similar to the Congressional Budget Office—that could offer independent, objective analysis of D.C. education policy. But whether local politicians could be persuaded to fund a think tank that might possibly reveal less-than-flattering information about DCPS remains to be seen.

You can read the article in full here.

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