Please join us for insider’s account of how politicians representing a radical white minority of Americans have used “the world’s greatest deliberative body” to hijack our democracy.
Every major decision governing our diverse, majority-female, and increasingly liberal country bears the stamp of the United States Senate, an institution controlled by people who are almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly male, and disproportionately conservative. Although they do not represent a majority of Americans, today’s Republican senators possess the power to block most legislation. Once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Senate has become one of the greatest threats to our democracy. How did this happen?
In “Kill Switch,” Senate insider Adam Jentleson contends that far from reflecting the Framers’ vision, the Senate has been transformed over the decades by a tenacious minority of white conservatives. Their primary weapon has been the filibuster, or the requirement that most legislation secure the support of a supermajority of senators. Jentleson shows that many of the greatest challenges of our era—partisan polarization, dark money, a media culture built on manufactured outrage—converge within the Senate. Kill Switch ultimately makes clear that unless we immediately and drastically reform the Senate’s rules and practices—starting with reforming the filibuster—we face the prospect of permanent minority rule in America.
Adam Jentleson is the public affairs director at Democracy Forward and a former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid. He is a columnist for GQ and frequent political commentator on MSNBC. Sam Wang is Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. He is co-founder of The Princeton Election Consortium blog and of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, as well as the author of the best-selling “Welcome to Your Brain” and “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain.” Julian E. Zelizer is professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author and editor of 19 books on American political history, most recently, “Burning Down the House: New Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker and the Rise of the New Republican Party.”
This event is cosponsored by Labyrinth Books, The Election Innovation Lab at Princeton and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
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