Second Rate Democracy

Seventeen Ways America is Less Democratic than other Major Western Countries and How We Can Do Better

A web project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor Emeritus of Politics, Mount Holyoke College

Seventeen Ways America is Less Democratic than other Major Western Countries and How We Can Do Better

A web project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor Emeritus of Politics, Mount Holyoke College

Offline Resources

If You Want a Deeper Understanding of the Problems with Democracy in the United States

There is a lot of information online about the political problems discussed on this site. But if you want to dive in more deeply, the best source is still books. Lots of very smart people are concerned with these issues and have written extensively about them. The following books provide a more comprehensive and well-documented analysis of these issues as well as explore in more detail some possible solutions.

Carol Anderson, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy, New York:  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.

Larry Bartels, Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the Gilded Age, New York:  Russell Sage Foundation, 2008.

Julia Cagé, The Price of Democracy:  How Money Shapes Politics and What To Do About It, Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 2020.

Adam Cohen. Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Five Year Battle for a More Unjust America, New York: Penguin Press, 2019.

Robert Dahl, How Democratic is the American Constitution? 2nd ed., New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.

David Daley, Rat F**Ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, New York:  Liveright, 2017.

Lee Drutman, Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Lee Drutman, The Business of America in Lobbying: How Corporations Became Politicized and Politics Became More Corporate, Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2015.

Kristin Eberhard, Becoming a Democracy: How We Can Fix the Electoral College, Gerrymandering, and Our ElectionsPortland, Oregon: Bookbaby Publishing, 2021.

George C. Edwards III, Why the Electoral College is Bad for America, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

Caroline Fredrickson, The Democracy Fix:  How to Win the Fight for Fair Rules, Fair Courts, and Fair Elections, New York:  New Press, 2019.

Martin Gilens, Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America, Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2012.

Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2011.

Thom Hartmann, The Hidden History of the War on Voting: Who Stole Your Vote and How to Get It Back, Oakland: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2020.

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, State Capture: How Conservative Activists, Big Business, and Wealthy Donors Reshaped American States – and the Nation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

William E. Hudson, American Democracy in Peril:  Eight Challenges to America’s Future 9th edition, Washington D.C.: CQ Press, 2020.

Adam Jentleson, Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy,  New York: Liveright Publishing, 2021.

Gordon Lafer, The One Percent Solution: How Corporations are Remaking America One State at a Time,  Ithaca:  Cornell University Press, 2017.

Frances Moore Lappe and Adam Eichen, Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning and Connection for the America We Want, Boston:  Beacon Press, 2017.

Bill Moyers, Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements, New York, New Society Publishers, 2001.

Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, Sizing Up the Senate:  The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation,  Chicago:  Chicago University Press, 1999.

Lawrence Lessig, They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy, New York: Dey St., 2019.

Lawrence R. Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, eds., Inequality and American Democracy, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005.

Sanford Levinson, Our Undemocratic Constitution:  Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct it), New York:  Oxford University Press, 2006.

Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains:  The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, New York:  Penguin Books, 2018.

Thomas Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, New York: Basic Books, 2016.

Jane Mayer, Dark Money:  The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, New York: Anchor Books, 2017.

Robert Ovetz, We the Elites: Why the Constitution Serves the Few, London: Pluto Press, 2022.

Benjamin I. Page and Martin Gilens, Democracy in America?  What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

Jedediah Purdy, Two Cheers for Politics: Why Democracy is Flawed, Frightening — and Our Best HopeNew York: Basic Books, 2022.

Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry E. Brady, and Sidney Verba, Unequal and Unrepresented: Political Inequality and the People’s Voice in the New Gilded Age, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018.

Ganesh Sitaraman, The Great Democracy:  How to Fix Our Politics, Unrig the Economy, and Unite America, New York: Basic Books, 2019.

Raymond A. Smith, The American Anomaly:  U.S. Politics and Government in Comparative Perspective 4th edition, New York:  Routledge, 2014.

Steven L. Taylor, et al, A Different Democracy:  American Government in a Thirty-One-Country Perspective, New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2014.

Mark Tushnet, Taking the Constitution Away from the Courts, Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2000.

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