The draft chapters for a co-authored book project in which I am involved are posted on my academic pages for anyone who might be interested.
A DIFFERENT DEMOCRACY?
A Systematic Comparison of the American System with 30 Other Democracies
By Steven L. Taylor, Matthew S. Shugart, Arend Lijphart, and Bernard Grofman
It is often said that the United States has an exceptional democracy. To what degree is this claim empirically true? If it is true, in what ways is US democracy different and do those differences matter? What explanations exist for these differences?
The study examines the choices made by the designers of the US government at the Philadelphia convention of 1787 and the institutional structures that evolved from those choices and compares them to 30 other democracies. The basic topics for comparison are as follows: constitutions, federalism, political parties, elections, interest groups, legislative power, executive power, judicial power, bureaucracies, and public policy.
Each chapter starts with a discussion of the feasible option set available on each type of institutional choice and the choices made by the US founders as a means of introducing the concepts, as well as discussing how specific choices made in the US led to particular outcomes. This is done by looking at the discussions on these topics from the Federalist Papers and the debates from the Philadelphia Convention. This approach allows a means of explaining the concepts in a comparative fashion (e.g., federal v. unitary government, unicameralism v. bicameralism, etc.) before moving into the comparisons of the US system to our other 30 democracies, which make up the second half of each chapter. Each chapter contains an explicit list of specific differences between the US and the other democracies as well as comparative data in tabular and graphical formats. The current draft of our book has 64 tables, 16 figures, and 10 text boxes. All of the figures and tables contain comprehensive comparative data featuring all 31 cases (save in a handful of instances) or specific thematic subsets of the 31 cases (e.g., presidential systems or bicameral legislatures).
The book is now under contract with Yale University Press.
Comments are welcome (but act fast!).