Steven Hill

Steven Hill is a political writer and author of several books including Europe's Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope for an Insecure Age and 10 Steps to Repair American Democracy, 2012 Election Edition. His articles and interviews have appeared in media around the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Nation, BBC, NPR, Democracy Now, C-Span, and more.

Recent Articles

A More Perfect European Union

David Cameron's speech has its fair share of detractors, but it should be embraced as an impetus to take Europe's governance to the next level.

Flickr/vsaid
As President Barack Obama embarks on his second term, he and many other global leaders hoping for economic recovery paid close attention to the recent speech given by British Prime Minister David Cameron about whether he would lead the UK out of the European Union. Europe is the largest trading partner with both the United States and China, so the continent’s recession and the restructuring of its basic institutions is no academic matter. What happens there affects the rest of the world. Cameron's speech was disappointing for most, including no doubt the White House which had lobbied Cameron to maintain Britain's place at Europe's center. The pugnaciousness at the core of Cameron's position—"The UK should stay in the European Union, but we want to cherry pick the conditions"—poses an obvious problem. No union can survive if its members agree to terms in such an à la carte manner, and the speech resulted in negative reactions from most quarters, including many of Cameron's allies...

Fixing Elections

The spoiler dilemma of Ralph Nader's candidacy is back, like the hockey-masked villain from a Friday the 13th horror movie that refuses to die. And unfortunately, Democratic Party leaders have done little over the past four years to change the outcome of this movie. What could Democrats have done? As advocated by the likes of Howard Dean and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., they could have passed state laws implementing instant-runoff voting for use in presidential elections. The problem is not candidates like Nader but our plurality electoral system, which does not require a majority of votes to win our highest offices. Consequently, popular majorities can fracture their support if there are more than two candidates in a race. With instant-runoff voting, every voter gains the option of picking not only his or her first-choice candidate but also ranking a second and third choice as his or her runoff choices. If your first choice can't win, your vote goes to your runoff choice. The...

Action Potential

The Bush administration proclaims that it is bringing democracy to Iraq, yet the lack of it at home is in evidence everywhere. State reformers are currently waging important battles for fair implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) -- the federal response to deficiencies unmasked by the chaotic 2000 presidential election -- but HAVA will do next to nothing about major tears in our democratic fabric. Consider the following: • The U.S. ranks 139th in the world in average voter turnout in national elections since 1945. It's been decades since even half of adults voted in congressional elections in a non-presidential year. • More than 10 years after the "Year of the Woman" (1992), the total percentage of women in Congress is stalled at less than 15 percent and is declining in state legislatures. • With blatant incumbent advantages resulting from the gerrymandering of legislative lines during redistricting, only four House incumbents lost to non-incumbent challengers in 2002 --...

Fixing Elections

The spoiler dilemma of Ralph Nader's candidacy is back, like the hockey-masked villain from a Friday the 13th horror movie that refuses to die. And unfortunately, Democratic Party leaders have done little over the past four years to change the outcome of this movie. What could Democrats have done? As advocated by the likes of Howard Dean and Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., they could have passed state laws implementing instant-runoff voting for use in presidential elections. The problem is not candidates like Nader but our plurality electoral system, which does not require a majority of votes to win our highest offices. Consequently, popular majorities can fracture their support if there are more than two candidates in a race. With instant-runoff voting, every voter gains the option of picking not only his or her first-choice candidate but also ranking a second and third choice as his or her runoff choices. If your first choice can't win, your vote goes to your runoff choice. The...

Who's Right Now?

S everal months ago, American journals -- mainstream and progressive both -- were filled with alarm about the rise of the far right in Europe. But recent election results in Germany, Sweden, Austria and elsewhere make clear that the panic button was pushed prematurely. In Germany, the coalition of Social Democrats and the Greens eked out a close victory in September. In Sweden, the ruling Social Democrats scored an unexpected victory, handily beating the predictions of the pollsters. Recent elections also saw center-left governments take the reins in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, the fortunes of the far right have fallen on harder times. Following the media frenzy over Jean-Marie Le Pen's success at making it to a runoff in the French presidential election, the anti-immigrant zealot drew just 18 percent support at the polls, and his party failed to win a single seat in the balloting for the National Assembly. In Austria, Jorg Haider, the personification of...

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