Reinventing Congress For The 21st Century

Beyond Local Representation and the Politics of Exclusion
Sol Erdman
PON Clearing House

With the Cold War won, the economy strong, and democracy triumphant, the United States should be enjoying the taste of victory and the fruits of peace. Instead, we are politically demoralized. No matter how important an issue Congress confronts, it produces, at best, showpiece legislation of dubious merit. More often, opposing sides simpy lock horns and nothing is resolved.

Despite a rising tide of anti-incumbency, threats of term limits and an unending barrage of public blame, little is destined to improve on Capitol Hill. The structure of Congress, not just its membership, is unequal to its task. No matter who is in power, negative election campaigns, deceptive platforms, voters driven by frustration, and opposition for opposition's sake will determine national policy. Congress as now structured cannot represent who we are as a nation, what we need or the best within us.

The United States has adjusted to a changing world many times with great success. The time for major change has again arrived. Reinventing Congress for the 21st Century shows how conflicts between national priorities could be soundly managed at the core of our political system. Based on the work of the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program, the book's inquiry parallels models adopted by the most successful American enterprises. Disturbing in its analysis and hopeful in the possibilities it envisions, Reinventing Congress offers achievable blueprint - a responsible legislature chosen by a responsible citizenry.