Lessons for a Congress in Crisis
Foreword by Norman J. Ornstein
In his thirty-year career representing the citizens of New Mexico in the US Senate, Jeff Bingaman witnessed great things accomplished through the legislative process. He also had a front-row seat for the breakdown of governing norms and the radical increases in polarization and partisanship that now plague what was once called the world's greatest deliberative body. Breakdown: Lessons for a Congress in Crisis traces the development of congressional dysfunction over more than three decades and provides eight case studies that examine how the crisis affects our government's ability to meet major policy challenges. We didn't always have a Senate that failed in its basic public obligations, including catalyzing a robust economy, confronting climate change, improving health care, fixing education, preserving public lands, and avoiding unnecessary wars. We do now.
Presenting insightful analysis of the causes and consequences of the dysfunction in Congress, Breakdown shows how Congress fails at the tasks Americans expect it to perform and, more importantly, how it might begin again to succeed.
"Insightful, timely."--Albuquerque Journal
"Bingaman, as anyone who has ever encountered him would attest, is hardly an alarmist prone to hyperbole. And his book lays out the trajectory of increasing dysfunction with measured prose, details, and no shortage of charts."--Santa Fe Reporter
"Bingaman distills important government trends from the murk of current events."--Pasatiempo
"Throughout his career in the Senate, Jeff Bingaman was always someone I and his other colleagues could count on to take a deliberative approach and provide sage counsel to help drive progress on the most pressing issues facing the country. His insightful analysis of the impediments to successful governance and how to overcome them make Breakdown essential reading for anyone entering public service."--Vice President Al Gore
"Every American should read Jeff Bingaman's new book, Breakdown. Like Bingaman's service in the Senate, it is full of common sense and in-depth understanding. Whether it is the issues we must solve to become an ever-more-prosperous country or the reforms we must pass to remain a responsive democracy, Bingaman goes to the heart of the matter. He not only diagnoses the problems but offers solutions and in doing so offers us hope."--Bill Bradley, former United States Senator
"In his thirty years in the Senate, Jeff Bingaman earned his reputation as a thoughtful and intelligent lawmaker, a problem solver, and one of the key constructive forces in Congress. Now he has taken his insights from those decades in public service to write a penetrating book about the key policy areas of our time, including the direct challenges to governance and democracy. If you care about America and its future, read this book."--Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
"Senator Bingaman's book could not have come at a better time, as a polarized America continues to face monumental policy challenges. Few members of Congress have been as effective at bridging the divide as Senator Bingaman, and his lessons of policy successes and failures provide a road map (and some hope!) for effective policy making to solve these challenges."--Michael Rocca, professor of political science at the University of New Mexico