At the root of America’s broken politics is hyperbolic partisanship. It distorts perceptions, inflames disagreements, and poisons the democratic process. Citizens pine for a time when liberals and conservatives compromised with one another—or they yearn for a post-partisan future when the common good trumps ideology and self-interest. Russell Muirhead argues that better partisanship, not less partisanship, is the solution to America’s political predicament. Instead of striving to overcome our differences, we should learn how to engage them.
The political conflicts that provide fodder for cable news shows are not simply manufactured from thin air. However sensationalized they become in the retelling, they originate in authentic disagreements over what constitutes the common welfare. Republicans vest responsibility in each citizen for dealing with bad decisions and bad luck, and want every individual and family to enjoy the benefits of good decisions and good luck. Democrats ask citizens to stand together to insure one another against the worst consequences of misfortune or poor judgment, and especially to insure children against some of the consequences of their parents’ bad decisions or lack of opportunities. These are fundamental differences that fantasies of bipartisan consensus cannot dissolve.
Disagreement without parties is disempowering, Muirhead says. The remedy is not for citizens and elected officials to learn to “just get along” but for them to bring a skeptical sensibility even to their own convictions, and to learn to disagree as partisans and govern through compromise despite those disagreements.
While there are far more women in public office today than in previous eras, women are still vastly underrepresented in this area relative to men. Conventional wisdom suggests that a key reason is because female candidates start out at a disadvantage with the public, compared to male candidates, and then face higher standards for their behavior and qualifications as they campaign. He Runs, She Runs is the first comprehensive study of these dynamics and demonstrates that the conventional wisdom is wrong. With rich contextual background and a wealth of findings, Deborah Jordan Brooks examines whether various behaviors--such as crying, acting tough, displays of anger, or knowledge gaffes--by male and female political candidates are regarded differently by the public. Refuting the idea of double standards in campaigns, Brooks's overall analysis indicates that female candidates do not get penalized disproportionately for various behaviors, nor do they face any double bind regarding femininity and toughness. Brooks also reveals that before campaigning begins, women do not start out at a disadvantage due to gender stereotypes. He Runs, She Runs makes clear that we need to look beyond public attitudes to understand why more women are not in office.
The conventional interpretation of equality under the law singles out certain groups or classes for constitutional protection: women, racial minorities, and gays and lesbians. The United States Supreme Court calls these groups 'suspect classes'. Laws that discriminate against them are generally unconstitutional. While this is a familiar account of equal protection jurisprudence, this book argues that this approach suffers from hitherto unnoticed normative and political problems. The book elucidates a competing, extant interpretation of equal protection jurisprudence that avoids these problems. The interpretation is not concerned with suspect classes but rather with the kinds of reasons that are already inadmissible as a matter of constitutional law. This alternative approach treats the equal protection clause like any other limit on governmental power, thus allowing the Court to invalidate equality-infringing laws and policies by focusing on their justification rather than the identity group they discriminate against.