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Norman Ornstein        

Bestselling Author, Political Analyst & Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Norman Ornstein is an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic and has been an election eve analyst for CBS News and BBC News. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Campaign Legal Center. Ornstein is Vice President of the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation, named in memory of his son Matthew, who died accidentally on January 3, 2015 after a ten year struggle with serious mental illness. The Foundation, which sponsors a summer debate institute for public school kids in the Washington, DC area, spearheaded the documentary The Definition of Insanity, which premiered at the Miami Film Festival in March 2020 and was broadcast nationally on PBS in April 2020, about the transformational program on criminal justice and mental illness created by Judge Steve Leifman in Miami-Dade Country, Florida.

Ornstein was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. He was named one of the top 100 global thinkers in 2012 by Foreign Policy Magazine and one of the 250 most influential people in Washington in 2021 by Washingtonian Magazine. His many books include The New York Times bestseller, It's Even Worse Than It Looks with Tom Mann and One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet-Deported (2017) with EJ Dionne and Tom Mann, which was immediately on the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists. Ornstein has a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MA and PhD from the University of Michigan.

Speech Topics

Understanding the Upcoming Election

What's So Funny About Washington

Other Topics

Politics and Washington, The Bush White House, The Elections Ahead, The Politics of Health Policy, Politics and Economic Policy, Politics and Foreign Policy

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: Political Polarization in Washington

Nonpartisan congressional scholar Norm Ornstein discusses the hyperpartisanship that has seeped into every part of our political process. With Congress deadlocked and our two main political parties abandoning the idea of compromise, our political system is at a standstill. Ornstein identifies the two overriding problems in our institutions – the parliamentary shape our system has taken and the vehemently adversarial parties than have become ideologically extreme. With nothing happening simply for the good of the country, both sides would rather block bills they once supported than let the other Party have a “win.” While Ornstein states that there is no panacea, he does offer useful reform ideas, endorsing solutions like greater public participation, an institutional restructuring of the House and Senate, and a focus on fixing the true causes of the dysfunction rather than a rinse-and-repeat cycle of “throwing the bums out.”

The Institution of Compromise: Why Hyper-partisanship is No Laughing Matter

With a political climate that reveals an unprecedented level of hyper-partisanship and an extreme unwillingness to compromise, longtime political pundit and commentator, Norman Ornstein outlines how the U.S. is on the brink of institutional collapse and doubled-over in deadlock. As chronicled in his recent book, Its Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism (2012), Ornstein identifies the two primary causes behind this pernicious state of affairs. At the lead is the issue of party mismatch and a governing system that makes it difficult for majorities to act. In close second is the issue of party culpability and asymmetric polarization. With a unique sense of humor, extraordinary eye for detail and over 30 years in the field, Ornstein discusses specifically what each of these issues entails and their possible solutions.

  • The American Political Landscape
  • The Direction of the Obama Administration in Politics and Policy
  • The Politics of Health Care Reform
  • Politics and Economic Policy
  • What's So Funny About Washington (Half Humorous, Half Serious Talk)


Why Congress Needs to Fix America's Broken Mental-Health System
Norm Ornstein is a contributing writer for The Atlantic, a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal, and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise  ...
Memo to GOP: Forget your obstructionist policies. They backfired ...
Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and the author, with Thomas E. Mann, of “It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the ...
Norm Ornstein Takes On The Media's Election Coverage Failures
American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein pointed to the flawed news judgment of political editors and cable news producers when it comes to election  ...

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