In "It’s Even Worse Than It Looks," congressional scholars Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of AEI identify two overriding problems that have led Congress — and the United States —to the brink of institutional collapse. The first is the serious mismatch between our political parties, which have become as vehemently adversarial as parliamentary parties, and a governing system that, unlike a parliamentary democracy, makes it extremely difficult for majorities to act. Second, while both parties participate in tribal warfare, both sides are not equally culpable. The political system faces what the authors call “asymmetric polarization.” Mann and Ornstein call on the media as well as the public at large to focus on the true causes of dysfunction.
“More than anytime in my lifetime, the United States is challenged at home and so is our place in the world. When Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein get together to sound a loud alarm about the way our political system is being torn apart, it’s time to listen—and listen hard. Then the tough part—how do we restore some sense of common purpose, of working together to make our government work? Mann and Ornstein set out ways to rebuild political bridges, beginning right now. We better get to work.”
--Paul A. Volcker, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve
"This is an exceptionally important and cogent analysis of America’s breakdown in self-governance. It is an urgent warning of the consequences of our intolerant politics and governing paralysis, and ways to fix it.”
--Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defense
“One doesn't have to agree with every one of Mann and Ornstein’s proposals to appreciate the extraordinary contribution to improving governance that they make in this important book. We could do no better than to use it as a compelling blueprint for urgently needed reform. If every member of Congress would read just one book on the subject, my wish is that it would be this one.”
--Tom Daschle, Former Senate Majority Leader
“The phrase ‘essential reading’ does not begin to get at the importance of this passionate warning by two of our very best political scientists about our nation’s capacity to govern itself. Mann and Ornstein sweep aside the timid conventional wisdom to inform Americans that our problems are even worse than we think they are. It is absolutely vital that this book’s findings and message enter the consciousness and consciences of journalists, politicians and citizens who care about the future of our republic.”
--E. J. Dionne, Author of "Our Divided Political Heart"