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The Debt Ceiling and Ungovernable America

NYU Law Professor Richard Pildes’s 2010 lecture on hyper-polarization proves prescient given the recent debt ceiling saga.

  • Kelly Williams
August 5, 2011

“Ungovernable America?” was the working title of the 2010 Brennan Center Jorde Symposium lecture, given by NYU School of Law Professor Professor Richard H. Pildes at the Woodrow Wilson School back in April 2010. Does the impasse on the debt ceiling prove his theory? Professor Pildes’ lecture is perhaps the most thorough and eloquent analysis that we have seen of the nation’s state of political hyper-polarization and inertia and includes provocative suggestions for reforms that might return consensus to Congress (such as election of the Speaker of the House by the entire House, not just Members of his or her own political party, and the elimination of closed primaries for federal elections). 

But, before you read on, a word for the faint of heart: Pildes concludes that we most likely face a long and difficult time where the nation’s business is neglected in favor of partisan warfare. The post below summarizes the lecture and includes a link to the Brennan Center Jorde Symposium issue of the California Law Review, which published a longer law review article based on the lecture and thoughtful commentaries provided by members of the Woodrow Wilson School faculty. 

Click here to read the Jorde Symposium lecture.