Tomorrow I “go” back to work after six weeks of parental leave. I was, of course, tremendously lucky to have that, not to mention to have a job, and one that I can do from my apartment. Every few days in the nearly three months since the COVID-19 outbreak began in earnest in this country has felt like an eternity. And just when it seemed that things were settling down, at least temporarily, massive protests have been sparked by yet another police murder of a black man. Even here it feels as though the situation has moved at an insane pace; the narrative that appeared to be gelling a few days ago has been completely obliterated as protesters have gained such wide acceptance that even Mitch McConnell felt the need to chime in about the righteousness of their underlying outrage. When Mitt Romney is joining the protests and saying Black Lives Matter, some sort of corner has been turned.
Strange times indeed.
I want to thank everyone who responded to my last update with helpful advice or offers to introduce me to people. I think I have settled upon a plan of attack based on the conversations that came out of that.
The total package that I want to describe is too long, too detailed, and—I have no illusions about this—too unlikely for publications to take much interest in. So I’m going with a two-pronged approach.
I’m going to write a comprehensive paper that covers:
- All of the reforms that I believe we should make
- The framework in which to understand and evaluate them
- Pragmatic considerations; why it’s useful to be ambitious thinking about what can be accomplished, which specific reforms should be prioritized in real world negotiations
Right now I plan to simply write it and put it up on SSRN, waiting until after it’s done to try and find a home for it. But if anyone knows of journals or think tanks that might be interested in publishing something like that, by all means clue me in!
In the meantime I will also pitch articles that focus on one or two of the reforms at a time, in a way that I don’t think is counterproductive. The biggest reason I want to treat the reforms as a package is that I firmly believe that to make a single change effective, one has to make other changes that effectively anticipate what the counter-response or undesired consequences of the initial change will be. In short, you want to have the right balance of changes. But I do think that some things, like party list proportional voting, can be pushed for with relatively minor additions and still be big net improvements. And publications are much more likely to go for those kinds of pieces than comprehensive constitutional reform packages.
Writing up the paper should also help in this regard. Since I want to discuss compromise solutions within it, those compromises themselves can become the basis of pieces for general audiences. The existence of the paper and, ideally, its publication, will also hopefully increase the chances of being able to speak more comprehensively to broader audiences.
That’s where things are right now! I will likely make fewer of these updates now that work is starting up again. As usual, thank you all for your interest and your support.