Thomas Mann

Thomas E. Mann is the director of the Governmental Studies Program and W. Averell Harriman Senior Fellow in American Governance at the Brookings Institution.

Recent Articles

Make Voting Mandatory and Filibusters Extinct

This piece is part of the Prospect' s series on progressives' strategy over the next 40 years. To read the introduction, click here . I have an instinctive reluctance to think about long-term plans. Too much uncertainty, too little flexibility in responding to unanticipated problems and opportunities. It would be tragic to fashion a grand strategy, this time on behalf of a very different set of values and objectives than those in the Powell Memo, that risks damaging our democracy as the new conservative (or, more appropriately, radical) strategy has done. The damage can be seen in the triumph of zealous ideology over serious governing ideas, disingenuous communication over persuasion, assertions over facts, nonnegotiable pledges and demands over deliberation and compromise, demonization of the political opposition over acceptance of the legitimacy of differences, individual and supermajority obstacles over majority rule, and a cynical strategic opposition to legislative initiatives of...

Controversy: Clean Elections Continued

RESPONSES TO Ellen S. Miller, " Clean Elections, How to ," January-February 1997 . John B. Judis, " Goo-Goos Versus Populists ," January-February 1997 . Paul Starr, " Democracy v. Dollar ," March-April 1997 . O ne might have thought (or at least hoped) that the revelations of scandalous fundraising practices in the 1996 campaign would improve prospects for enacting much-needed reforms, much as tales of the outrageous behavior by the Committee to Reelect the President provided the impetus for the last major rewrite of campaign finance law in 1974. But the Republican leadership in Congress has signaled clearly that its only interest is in focusing public attention on the illegal and improper conduct of President Clinton's re-election effort, not in restructuring the "American way" of financing elections. And congressional Democrats show every sign of wanting an attractive political position to defend in the 1998 midterm elections, not a change in campaign finance law. Perhaps more...

I $ New York

W hat are campaign finance reformers to make of the fact that Republican billionaire Michael Bloomberg was elected mayor of New York last month? Bloomberg's success has reignited the issue of money in politics and underscored the power of constitutionally protected, wealthy, self-financed candidates. His personal spending of nearly $70 million and Virginia Governor-elect Mark Warner's generous self-subsidy of his own campaign followed on the heels of the more than $60 million in personal money New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine spent in 2000 and the elections of millionaires Maria Cantwell and Mark Dayton to Senate seats in Washington State and Minnesota, respectively. Wealthy candidates are becoming more and more common, thanks to personal political ambition and the active recruitment efforts of party leaders. And, as these examples suggest, money rules. Many people sneer at the folly of campaign finance reform attempts such as abolishing "soft money" and restricting so-called issue-...