What does it take for the most venerable, stable, and free government in the world to undergo a genuine Constitutional crisis? Jeff Greenfield argues that such a crisis would not emerge overnight, nor would it be the consequence of any one election or leader. Rather, it would take a steady erasure of beliefs and assumptions held across political and ideological lines, as well as an erosion of trust not just in politics, but in major institutions as well. Are there signs that we are moving toward such an atmosphere? If so, what can be done to alter that course?
Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network correspondent and best-selling author who, during a career spanning more than three decades, has served as senior political correspondent for CBS, senior analyst for CNN, political and media analyst for ABC News, and contributing correspondent for PBS’ “News Hour Weekend.” Best known for his coverage of domestic politics and media, he has been a floor reporter or anchor booth analyst for every national convention since 1988. He was formerly a columnist for Time, Yahoo! News, and the New York Observer and is currently one for Politico and The Daily Beast. Greenfield has authored or co-authored 14 books, including a national bestselling novel (The People’s Choice: A Cautionary Tale) and several alternate histories of American politics (Then Everything Changed, 43*: When Gore Beat Bush, and If Kennedy Lived). Greenfield graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin where he was editor-in-chief of The Daily Cardinal. He graduated with honors from the Yale Law School where he was a Note and Comment Editor of the Yale Law Journal.
This event made possible through the generosity of the Poomer Fund, Santa Barbara Foundation, courtesy of Anne Smith Towbes.
Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, “This is How Democracies Die,” The Guardian (January 21, 2018)
David Frum, “How to Build an Autocracy,” The Atlantic (March, 2017)
Elaine Kamarck gives a history of the presidential nomination system in the United States and how it differs from the nomination system in almost every other democracy in the world. In particular she discusses how and why the system changed dramatically from Eisenhower to Trump and what it means for the kinds of choices we get in November.
Elaine Kamarck is Senior Fellow in the Governance Studies program as well as the Director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution and Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is an expert on government innovation and reform in the United States and countries around the world. In addition, her research focuses on the presidential nomination system and American politics and she has participated actively in four presidential campaigns and ten nominating conventions. Kamarck is the author of Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates (updated edition, Brookings Institution Press, 2016) and Why Presidents Fail and How They Can Succeed Again. Her other publications include How Change Happens—or Doesn’t: The Politics of US Public Policy and The End of Government… As We Know It: Making Public Policy Work. She makes regular media appearances (ABC, CBS, NBC, the BBC, CNN, NPR, and Fox News Now) and writes articles on current political affairs, most recently “Reforming Government First Requires Understanding It,” The Atlantic (March 28, 2017). Kamarck received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Elaine Kamarck, “Re-Inserting Peer Review in the American Presidential Nomination Process,” Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings (April, 2017)
James Madison and the Framers of the Constitution designed not a direct democracy but a representative republic that would filter public passions to promote thoughtful deliberation and the public good. Today, the rise of new populist movements, fueled by new media technologies and structural changes in the Constitution, have unleashed the popular passions that the framers feared. In this seminar, Jeffrey Rosen asks what Madison and the framers would think of our current Congress, presidency, courts, and media, asking how we can resurrect Madisonian values of thoughtful deliberation and reasoned public discourse today.
Jeffrey Rosen serves as President & CEO of the National Constitution Center, Professor at The George Washington University Law School, Contributing Editor of The Atlantic and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is a highly regarded journalist whose essays and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, on National Public Radio, and in The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer. The Chicago Tribune named him one of the 10 best magazine journalists in America and a reviewer for the Los Angeles Times called him “the nation’s most widely read and influential legal commentator.” He is the best-selling author of Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet, The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America, The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America, and The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America, which The New York Times called “the definitive text on privacy perils in the digital age.”
Inaugural event made possible through the generosity of Juliane Heyman.
Federalist No. 10 by James Madison