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To boost Hill credibility, some clues from the last impeachment

News

To boost Hill credibility, some clues from the last impeachment

The very course of American history is shifting with the formalized launch of an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. And for those who view democracy as broken, and well beyond all the recently alleged abuses of executive power, one important undercurrent is captured by this question:

Can Congress use the proceedings to recalibrate the balance of power, reclaiming even a bit of the muscle it's allowed to atrophy to the benefit of presidents for so long — and maybe even end up boosting its abysmal public reputation as dysfunctional and polarized?

It's a big reach. But the ingredients are there for Capitol Hill to reap lasting institutional benefit from the coming drama, and for American democracy to be better off at the end, no matter what the outcome for Trump.

Looking to emulate aspects of the last impeachment is a place to start.

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N.C. congressional map targeted in suit mirroring big win against legislature's lines

North Carolina's congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander under the state constitution just like the state legislative maps struck down earlier this month, a lawsuit filed Friday argues.

The National Redistricting Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of a political committee run by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asked the state courts to order a redrawing of the 13 House districts in time for next year's election because the current map is "the most extreme and brazen partisan gerrymander in American history."

The lawsuit relies almost entirely on the precedent set just this month by a panel of three judges in Charlotte, who declared the maps for the General Assembly drawn by the GOP violated the state constitution's clauses protecting the rights of Democrats to free elections, equal protection and freedom of speech and assembly.

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Long walk, minimal footprint for one democracy reform protester

If a man walks hundreds of miles so he can stage a photogenic protest on the Capitol steps, then disappears into a crowd of other demonstrators without saying a word on camera, does he actually accomplish his goal?

Renaldo Pearson insists the answer is a qualified yes.

Supported by RepresentUs, which bills itself as the nation's biggest grassroots group pushing for fairer elections and less money in politics, Pearson really did walk almost 700 miles from Atlanta to Washington. And he did so in just 47 days, which may have done more to complicate his cause than to help it.

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Meet the reformer: Kevin Kosar, strong voice for a stronger Congress

Kevin Kosar is vice president of policy at R Street Institute and also cofounder of the nonpartisan Legislative Branch Capacity Working Group, which aims to strengthen Congress. He was previously a senior official at the Congressional Research Service, where he served as an analyst and research manager. His answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

R Street is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization. Our mission is to engage in policy research and outreach to promote free markets and limited, effective government.

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Debate

Ballot initiatives are voters' best tactics, so use them

In our representative democracy, ballot initiatives serve as a check to ensure the power of the people, according to Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. On Thursday, we published a countervailing argument against the use the ballot initiatives.

Community

The Dis-United States: Tribalism in American Politics

Joined by leading figures from journalism, politics, and academia, this conference will explore how polarization is driving Americans into competing and antagonistic tribes. We will examine the history of tribalism, its impacts on politics, and what role the media should play.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

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Ballot measures are good democracy — but only if you can understand them

Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.

This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.

In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.

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Balance of Power
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Two states asking Supreme Court for permission to regulate Electoral College conduct

Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.

The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.

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