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Zócalo and the LA Times
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Would Parliamentary America Have More Fun?


With the 2024 election season upon us, Americans feel political despair. The president and his leading challenger, a former president, are deeply unpopular. Huge majorities, in both parties, tell pollsters that the two-party system is broken. For many, the prospect of engaging in upcoming political contests evokes downright dread.

So, where can we find the inspiration and ideas to fundamentally repair our democracy, climb out of this political rut, and turn the mood around? In other democracies around the world, says Maxwell L. Stearns, constitutional law professor and author of the new book Parliamentary America: The Least Radical Means of Radically Repairing Our Broken Democracy. Stearns visits Zócalo to outline a three-part plan to turn the United States into a multi-party parliamentary democracy that could make our politics less maddening, more collaborative—and perhaps even more fun. What are the legal, constitutional, and political steps needed to modernize American democracy and reignite civic zeal and joy? And how different might the U.S. look if governed by a parliament of multi-party coalitions? Stearns, and Los Angeles Times Columnist Erika D. Smith will discuss the nation’s fractured two-party system and a three-part plan to repair our democracy.

This program is part of Zócalo’s inquiry, “Can Democracy Survive This Election Year?,” an editorial and event series about voters’ experiences around the world in 2024, the biggest election year in history.

Zócalo invites the in-person audience to join us after the program for a reception, with complimentary food and beverages.

Image credit: Illustration by Anna Gasparyan