“Is America Governable” conference to take place at the Law School, January 24–26, 2013

The Law School will host a conference, “Is America Governable?” on January 24–26, 2013. It will bring together a remarkable array of scholars across many disciplines, people with a variety of high-level political experience, and eminent journalists, including:

  • Tom Mann and Norman Ornstein, congressional scholars, respectively, at the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute and coauthors of the much-discussed 2012 book It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism as well as an earlier book on Congress, The Broken Branch.
  • Mickey Edwards, a long-time Republican representative from Oklahoma, now at the Aspen Institute in Washington, and author, most recently, of The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans.
  • Stephen Skowronek, a professor of political science at Yale and one of the leading students of the American presidency, author most recently of Presidential Leadership in Political Time: Reprise and Reappraisal
  • Jane Mansbridge, the current president of the American Political Science Association and professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard, and author, among other books, of Why We Lost the ERA
  • Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times.

The conference was organized by Sanford Levinson, a long-time professor at the Law School and Department of Government. “Pundits and political figures across the political spectrum,” Levinson notes, “now regularly refer to the United States government–and to some of its state governments as well–as ‘dysfunctional’ or even ‘pathological,’ with serious questions raised as to whether the United States in the 21st century can even be described as ‘governable.’ No doubt the answer depends on what one expects from government. If the only test is, for example, continuing to pay debts owed by the United States or not willfully falling off ‘fiscal cliffs,’ then perhaps the answer is yes, though one commentator has compared this standard as the equivalent of a parent proudly proclaiming of a child that ‘he has remained out of prison.’ Should ‘governability’ be defined as the ability to confront a host of challenges facing us in the contemporary world, the answer might be less optimistic. The weekend after the inauguration of President Barack Obama for his final term in office is a propitious time for confronting basic questions about the health of the American political system.”

A full schedule of participants and panels is available on the conference website. The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is requested.