PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis is not a new claim: People have been arguing against the Electoral College from the beginning. But no one, at least in recent years, has laid out the case as comprehensively and as readably as Jesse Wegman does ... detailed, but eminently readable ... Wegman leaves largely unaddressed how the compact interacts with the patchwork of state laws governing elections...These problems might well be solvable within the compact framework — but they require more thinking through now, before a presidential election turns on them.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewBrettschneider’s book, addressed to a presidential aspirant, begins with the question “What do you need to know to be president?” The answer: \'Most of all, you need to know the U.S. Constitution.\' This framing is one of the book’s great virtues: It moves the focus away from the too-common and too-narrow question of what the courts might force a president to do in the name of the Constitution to the more capacious question of how a president herself should understand her constitutional role ... Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University, criticizes Republicans’ late-20th-century \'Southern strategy\' as inconsistent with American constitutional values, rather than recognizing the messier and sadder truth that it was a choice to embrace one grand constitutional narrative, that of white supremacism, over another, more egalitarian one. But Brettschneider’s Whiggery also comes out in myriad smaller ways ... This sanding down of our constitutional tradition until it is smooth facilitates the book’s optimism. Brettschneider’s insistence on a coherent, unified constitutional narrative allows him to claim that the liberal values he favors are dictated by the Constitution itself ... But if, instead, those are only some of the values in our constitutional tradition—if, indeed, they are in deep tension with other, equally embedded values—then we have to turn somewhere other than to the Constitution for guidance ... The Constitution alone won’t save us.