Can a parliamentary democracy end America’s constitutional crisis?

Americans face increasingly stark choices each presidential election and a growing sense that our government can’t solve the nation’s most urgent challenges. Our eighteenth-century system is ill suited to our twenty-first-century world. Information-age technology has undermined our capacity to face common problems together and turned our democracy upside down, with gerrymanders letting representatives choose voters rather than voters choosing them. In Parliamentary America, Maxwell Stearns argues that the solution to these complex problems is a parliamentary democracy.

Stearns considers such leading alternatives as ranked choice voting, the national popular vote, and congressional term limits, showing why these can’t solve our constitutional crisis. Instead, three amendments—expanding the House of Representatives, having House party coalitions choose the president, and letting the House end a failing presidency based on no confidence—will produce a robust multiparty democracy. These amendments hold an essential advantage over other proposals: by leaving every member of the House and Senate as incumbents in their districts or states, the amendments provide a pressure-release valve against reforms threatening that status.

Stearns takes readers on a world tour—England, France, Germany, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, and Venezuela—showing what works in government, what doesn’t, and how to make the best features our own. Genuine party competition and governing coalitions, commonplace across the globe, may seem like a fantasy in the United States. But we can make them a reality. This rare book offers an optimistic vision, explaining in accessible terms how to transform our troubled democracy into a thriving parliamentary America.

Maxwell Stearns will be joined in conversation by Johns Hopkins University political science professor Emily Zackin.

About the Author: 

Maxwell Stearns is the Venable, Baetjer & Howard Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. He has authored dozens of articles and several books on the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the economic analysis of law.

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Add to Calendar 20240311 America/New_York 400 Cathedral Street Baltimore MD 21201 Maxwell Stearns, “Parliamentary America”