Princeton University Press: Two must-read books provide a roadmap for post-Election political compromise and election reform

Nov 12, 2012, 13:21 ET from Princeton University Press

PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It by Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson

In the days prior to and following the Presidential election, political rancor and partisanship reared their ugly heads in spite of calls by both President Obama and Governor Romney on Election night for politicians to work together in the coming months, to find common ground, and, ultimately, to reach compromise. Voters are left wondering, is compromise even possible in this divided environment? In The Spirit of Compromise, Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson tell us that campaigning requires an uncompromising mindset in candidates, but good governance requires leaders willing to compromise. Now that the campaigning is over and tough decisions for the future of the country need to be made, what are the prospects for compromise? Gutmann and Thompson reveal how to restore political compromise in Washington, DC and why it is necessary now more than ever.

PBS Newshour's Judy Woodruff calls it a "'no excuses' look at Washington gridlock," that every policymaker should read.

The Democracy Index: Why Our Election System Is Failing and How to Fix It by Heather Gerken

Anecdotes of long voting lines and viral videos of malfunctioning machines aside, we actually have very little data about the efficiency and effectiveness of our election systems. In his acceptance speech, President Obama intimated that election reform is on his agenda, and in this book Gerken, a political science professor at Yale and elections expert, proposes an ingeniously simple solution.  The Democracy Index would collect information about how people vote–how long are the lines? how many machines malfunction? how accurately are votes counted?—and rank states and municipalities by their performance on Election Day. 

Much like the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the Index would provide an incentive for election officials to improve their practices and thereby climb the rankings. It would also reveal instances of partisan-inspired voter fraud and disenfranchisement and ultimately empower voters to demand better practices from their officials.

"If we had a reliable, comparative measure of election performance, we could tell the difference between partisan mischief and routine problems, between a badly run system and a system that works as well as everyone else's," says Gerken.

Media contact: Jessica Pellien, 609-258-7879, Princeton University Press,

SOURCE Princeton University Press