Last week we read the first part of Tom Mann & Norm Ornstein’s new book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” and asked the question: who’s to blame for the current acrimony and dysfunction in Congress. Everyone knows it’s there- and its gotten worse in the past few years. The discussion on the Copia page and on Twitter has been good. Predictably the partisans blame the other side. That’s to be expected. But the real question that emerged was whether the well has become too poisoned for either party to really take control and get stuff done again. What I’m saying is- and this is the really big concern if you talk to people in Washington right now- that regardless of who wins the election, Obama or Romney, the other side is just not going to allow for anything to get passed, for nothing to be accomplished. In fact, it will get even worse.
Which leads into this week’s discussion- and the second half of the book, which we’re reading this week. What to do about it. What I like about Mann and Ornstein is that they don’t just take the rosy answers you sometimes hear and run with it. They don’t say “we need a third party”- a nice idea, but as we saw with the failed Americans Elect effort, it’s no easy feat. They don’t say “take all money out of politics” again it’s a nice idea but it’s not going to happen overnight. Instead they really look at the problem and say, ok, what are the 1, 2, 3 things that we could do- today- and maybe with a little bit of work get the other side to come with us- that would really make a big difference.
This week as we’re reading the second section and finishing up the book- keep these questions in mind. Do you agree with the authors that there are actions all of us can take to help turn things around? Things like using our networks to force change in the political climate, working towards recreating the public square where there is genuine forum and debate among people, and getting former members of Congress involved in almost a “shadow Congress” to continue discussion and debate even when their terms are up? Also- continuing the question from last week- do you agree that it’s the Republican party that must change first if our democracy truly is going to regain it’s health? That’s a bold argument that’s made towards the end of the final chapters- but it’s maybe the post important in the book.
Keep this in mind as you read this week. Then we’ll wrap things up with a final discussion post early next week- just as the Republican Convention is getting underway in Tampa.
Join or log on to your account on TheCopia.com to read along and join the discussion:
1/ Sign-Up: If you haven’t already created a free account on TheCopia.com, you can sign up at thecopia.com/trippi.
2/ Download the book: Once you create your account, you’ll need to do two things in order to read the book along with us. You need to download an app or reader from Copia. (Instructions at: http://www.thecopia.com/about/applications.html) and then you need to download our book. Just search in the library for “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” and click download. This is the only way that you’ll be able to see my in-page comments.
3/ Join the Discussion: All of the discussion questions will be posted in my group onthecopia.com.
4/ Read With Us: Last week (August 14-20) we read until page 85 (Part I: The Problem). This week (August 21-27) we’ll read the rest (Part II: What to Do About It).
If you have any questions or have an idea for the club, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.