Welcome to Polyarchy, a Vox blog that will be produced by the political reform program at New America, a Washington think tank devoted to developing new ideas and new voices. This blog will be mostly about politics, but we use a broad definition of the word. We'll write about the horse race of the 2016 election and about some bigger ideas of how to engage citizens and bring new ideas into the political process; we'll write about books and culture, as well.
Polyarchy's main authors will be Mark Schmitt and Lee Drutman of New America. Mark is a former editor of the American Prospect (where he worked with several of the current Vox writers), was an early political blogger at the Decembrist and other sites, and has worked on Capitol Hill and for a foundation. Lee is a political scientist and the author of The Business of America Is Lobbying. We'll have frequent guest posts from our colleagues as well as from people we think have something interesting to say.
Finally, the title: Polyarchy, in Greek, means rule by the many, and can be a synonym for democracy. We're borrowing the title from a book by the late political scientist Robert Dahl, who used it to distinguish the messy reality of politics from a kind of idealized democracy characterized by total equality and fair procedures. Like Dahl, we think the American political process can do a lot better at engaging and responding to "the many" — by expanding participation, increasing electoral competition, and reducing the ways in which the political process reinforces economic inequality. Instead of talking about unattainable ideals, like "get money out of politics," we try to look for approaches that are realistic but ambitious. Politics and democracy, even at their best, are imperfect, messy, and confusing, but also a lot of fun, and we won't lose sight of that ideal.