Inclusive Democracy

Inclusive Democracy
Inclusive Democracy

Draft Syllabus

Can We Achieve an Inclusive Democracy? American Democracy in Crisis

The first group of readings asks whether American democracy today is in crisis. The authors explore current potential threats to democracy, including partisan polarization, economic inequality, misinformation, mistrust of government, obstacles to voting, and conflicts about who belongs in the political community (particularly based on race). The second group of readings takes a broader look at American democracy throughout history and today, examining the country’s racist history of undemocratic exclusion, the divide between rural and urban areas, and the promise and problems of deliberative democracy.   

Is Our Democracy in Peril?

Inclusion, Power, Conflict

Constructing the Political Community: Citizenship, Immigration, Populism

These readings aim to define citizenship, both legally and normatively. They explore citizenship’s relationship to social solidarity and exclusion and how solidarity is politically constructed. The second set of readings discusses immigration and its backlash as well as the recent rise of nationalism and populism.

Citizenship and the National Community

Immigration and Populism

Structuring American Democracy: Federalism as Problem and Promise

These materials compare the possibilities for building power and protecting rights at the national, state, and local levels. They explore the problems and promises of federalism, which can allow racial minorities and dissenters to gain local power but also allow states to, for example, limit the numbers of people who can benefit from federal welfare spending. They pose the question of whether civil rights are best served by a federal floor or by states and ask how federalism can diffuse social conflict.

Rights and States’ Rights

State and Local Institutions

Federalism and Conflict

Voting, Social Solidarity, and Racial Authoritarianism

The first group of readings asks whether our electoral system functions as it should. It examines the extent to which our electoral system is shaped by racial inequality and accounts for historical disenfranchisement. Weaver and Prowse ask why political scientists have failed to account for racial authoritarianism (starkly different sets of rules and laws for different people based on race) in studying U.S. democracy. The second set of readings explores partisan polarization and the increasing overlap between political parties and social or group identities, in addition to evaluating the Supreme Court’s willingness to defend representative democracy.

Elections and Racial Authoritarianism

Parties and Partisanship

Reforming Democratic Institutions: Congress and the Executive Branch

These readings compare the strengths and weaknesses of Congress and the executive branch in representing voters, providing checks and balances to other branches, and preventing democratic backsliding. The first set of readings evaluates polarization, gridlock, and dysfunction in Congress and proposes a population-based majoritarian rule for ending the filibuster in the Senate. The second set of readings examines executive power and administrative agencies and proposes means for evaluating when leaders have accrued too much power and are eroding liberal constitutions.

Congressional Capacity and Norms

Constitutional Culture and Judicial Review

Constitutional Culture and Judicial Review

These materials evaluate the viability of various proposals for reforming the Supreme Court. They present different views of the Supreme Court as a political or an apolitical body, the optimal strength of judicial review, and the appropriate level of judicial deference to legislative authority.