The Spirit of Compromise

The Spirit of Compromise : Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It

2.79 (29 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?


To govern in a democracy, political leaders have to compromise. When they do not, the result is political paralysis--dramatically demonstrated by the gridlock in Congress in recent years. In The Spirit of Compromise, eminent political thinkers Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson show why compromise is so important, what stands in the way of achieving it, and how citizens can make defensible compromises more likely. They urge politicians to focus less on campaigning and more on governing. In a new preface, the authors reflect on the state of compromise in Congress since the book's initial publication. Calling for greater cooperation in contemporary politics, The Spirit of Compromise will interest everyone who cares about making government work better for the good of all.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 136 x 216 x 20mm | 379.99g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • Updated edition with a New Preface by the authors
  • 0691160856
  • 9780691160856
  • 1,408,328

Review quote

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013 "Provide[s] grist for thinking through the difficulties of compromise in [domestic policy], from tragic choices at desperate moments of history to the routine nastiness in American public life today... Until recently, who would have thought it necessary to offer Americans advice in the ways of compromise? We used to enjoy a reputation for being a practical-minded people, our politicians being regarded as an all-too-flexible species. But something has changed, and according to Gutmann and Thompson, the change has to do with the relation of campaigning and governing... Gutmann and Thompson end their book with recommendations to strengthen the spirit and practice of compromise."--Paul Starr, The New Republic "'Compromise is difficult, but governing a democracy without compromise is impossible.' So begins this excellent, much needed corrective to the contemporary political scene, which eschews compromise in politics in favor of war analogies... This excellent book should be required reading for every member of Congress, and deserves a wide readership among the voting public."--Choice "For [the] lawmakers, and for the voters who claim to value compromise, reading this book would be a good start."--Ruth Marcus, Washington Post "Scholars will appreciate the authors' lucid analysis of the dynamics of political compromise."--Library Journal "Gutmann and Thompson articulately identify the conundrum that has made compromise unlikely, if not impossible, in Washington."--Alexander Heffner, Philadelphia Inquirer
show more

About Dennis Frank Thompson

Amy Gutmann is president of the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science in the School of Arts and Sciences and professor of communication in the Annenberg School of Communication. Dennis Thompson is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy at Harvard University. Gutmann and Thompson are coauthors of Why Deliberative Democracy? (Princeton) and Democracy and Disagreement.
show more

Back cover copy

"In this 'no excuses' look at Washington gridlock, Gutmann and Thompson offer a clear-eyed examination of the forces that bring warring political leaders together or keep them apart. Far from a Pollyanna-like plea for compromise above all, this book uses fascinating historical and recent examples, and analysis, to expose the sources of dysfunction and to argue for how they can be overcome. I wish every policymaker would read it!"--Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour

"Americans tend to think that compromise is opposed to principle, and that there is therefore something dishonorable about it. In this marvelous book, two of our leading theorists of democracy defend the opposite view. Our democracy works only with mutual respect among those who disagree and requires the principled prudence that produces successful compromise. In a world of partisan gridlock and the politics of division, The Spirit of Compromise is a sane voice calling us to a better alternative."--Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers

"Gutmann and Thompson have written an incisive and engaging analysis--with many contemporary examples--of why compromise is necessary in democratic politics and why it is increasingly difficult in our democracy. Watching our politicians at work, I can't imagine a more timely book."--Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

"America now finds itself the bound prisoner of congressional gridlock. We all honestly know what we must do, but just cannot find the common purpose to do what is obviously necessary to pull the country on the road back to financial well-being and long-term prosperity. In this book, two eminent political scientists show us just why compromise seems more elusive than ever--and yet more importantly--what we can do about it. Oh, one would surely hope that those who cherish the legislative craft will read and heed this book's timely message!"--Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator, Wyo. (Retired)

"In an era of partisan polarization, congressional gridlock, and plunging public trust in government, this book could not be more timely. Deftly weaving together political theory and practical politics, Gutmann and Thompson trace the contours of necessary and honorable compromise, and propose reforms that would make it more likely."--William Galston, Brookings Institution

"Gutmann and Thompson rely on both theory and history to show why compromise is essential to good governing. They provide a perceptive analysis of the tensions between campaigning and governing in contemporary democracies, especially the United States. Their account is thought-provoking and timely."--Nannerl O. Keohane, author of Thinking about Leadership

"The Spirit of Compromise advances an urgent and illuminating argument about the essential place of compromise in democratic politics. It offers an incisive account of the predicament of American politics today and shows how, in spite of real disagreements, political leaders might come together for the sake of the common good."--Russell Muirhead, Dartmouth College

"As one would expect from Gutmann and Thompson, The Spirit of Compromise thoughtfully and effectively blends theory with real-life examples to underscore a larger important thesis: the political process of compromise matters."--Norman J. Ornstein, coauthor of The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track
show more

Table of contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix INTRODUCTION Two Compromises 5 Characteristics of Compromise 10 Mindsets of Compromise 16 1 VALUING COMPROMISE Costs of Not Compromising 30 Vulnerabilities of Compromise 35 Limits of Compromise 41 Limits of History 54 2 RESISTING COMPROMISE The Makeup of Mindsets 64 Principled Tenacity 69 Mutual Mistrust 85 Uncompromising Multiplied 91 3 SEEKING COMPROMISE Principled Prudence 101 Mutual Respect 109 Economizing on Disagreement 117 A Moment of Compromise 133 Compromising in an Uncompromising Time 140 4 CAMPAIGNING V. GOVERNING Requisites of Campaigning 146 Two Conceptions of Democracy 152 5 GOVERNING WITH CAMPAIGNING Space for Governing 168 Term Time 177 Time Is Money 180 Primary Pressures 184 More Participation? 186 Minding the Media 189 Strengthening Civic Education 199 CONCLUSION The Uses of Mindsets 205 Doubts about Compromise 210 The Dilemma of Reform 214 The Support of Citizens 216 Notes 219 Acknowledgments 255 Index 257
show more

Rating details

29 ratings
2.79 out of 5 stars
5 7% (2)
4 24% (7)
3 21% (6)
2 38% (11)
1 10% (3)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X