Is American Democracy Broken? Perspectives and Debates

Key challenges to American democracy in today's volatile political climate
Free tutorial
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 (305 ratings)
8,910 students
2hr 44min of on-demand video
English [Auto]


A Faculty Project Course - Best Professors Teaching the World

American democracy seems in crisis, as we face legislative gridlock, soaring deficits, negative campaigns awash in donations from anonymous sources, growing public distrust of government, and protest movements on the right and left on the political spectrum. This class provides an overview of competing views on contemporary American democracy and a fresh look at some key issues facing our polity, including campaign finance, the War powers, the politics of deficit spending, and the proper policy-making role of the courts.


Associate Professor of Political Science - University of Southern California
Jeb Barnes
  • 4.8 Instructor Rating
  • 305 Reviews
  • 8,910 Students
  • 1 Course

After receiving his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, Jeb clerked for a federal bankruptcy judge and then practiced as a commercial litigator in Boston and San Francisco. In 1994, he left the practice of law to pursue a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. His research centers on the intersection between law and politics and how policy emanates from interactions among the various levels and branches of government.

His research has been published peer-reviewed articles in a variety of journals, including Political Research Quarterly, Law & Society Review, Law & Social Inquiry, and Annual Review of Political Science, and three books: Dust-Up: Asbestos Litigation and the Failure of Commonsense Policy Reform (2011), Overruled? Legislative Overrides, Pluralism, and Contemporary Court-Congress Relations (2004), and a co-edited volume, Making Policy, Making Law: An Interbranch Perspective (2004). He has been invited to present his work in a wide range of academic and professional settings, including Oxford University, Northwestern University, the Center for the Study of Law and Society at UC Berkeley, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Aspen Institute, and the Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

At USC, he is a Distinguished Dornsife Faculty Fellow and has won numerous awards, including a departmental teaching award, a general education teaching award, the Gamma Sigma Alpha Professor of the Year Award, and the Raubenheimer Award for outstanding junior faculty.

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