Would Less Transparency Produce a Better Congress?

Kevin Hartnett - April 18, 2014

In the quest for better government, we’ve implemented a number of reforms at the state and federal level over the last several decades intended to open up our democracy—“sunshine laws,” which require elected officials to carry out committee deliberations in public; term-limits to weed out fat-cat incumbents; and anti-pork provisions which curb favor-trading in the legislative process.

These reforms are all well-intentioned, and make sense on an intuitive level, but a recent book-length report from the American Political Science Association says they can easily backfire, leading to more governmental dysfunction, not less.

The report was co-authored by political scientists Jane Mansbridge of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Cathie Jo Martin of Boston University. It is called “Negotiating Agreement in Politics” and it argues that, among other factors, more transparency sometimes produces worse government. More»

Jane Mansbridge is is an affiliated faculty of the Ash Center.