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Norman Ornstein

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

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

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Washington, DC, USA
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Norman Ornstein Biography

Norman J. Ornstein is a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he has been studying politics, elections, and the US Congress for more than four decades. Along with Thomas Mann and Michael Malbin, he created “Vital Statistics on Congress” in 1980, a go-to-reference guide that provides impartial data for congressional watchers, and is updated every two years. He is also a longtime participant of AEI’s Election Watch series and an adviser to the Continuity of Government Commission.

Dr. Ornstein previously served as codirector of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project. He has been involved in political reform for decades, particularly campaign finance, election reform, and House and Senate reform. He has also played a part in creating the Congressional Office of Compliance and the House Office of Congressional Ethics. He was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.

He often appears on C-SPAN, CBS, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NPR, and “PBS NewsHour,” among other outlets. He served as an election analyst for CBS News for thirty years, and also was an on-air election analyst for BBC News. Through his family foundation named in honor of his late son Matthew, he helped spearhead the documentary “The Definition of Insanity,” about criminal justice and mental illness, which premiered at the Miami Film Festival in March 2020 and aired nationally on PBS on April 14, 2020.

Dr. Ornstein’s articles and opinion pieces have been published widely, including in Foreign Affairs, the Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Politico, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and USA Today. He is also a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic.

Dr. Ornstein’s books include the New York Times and Washington Post bestsellers “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported” (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) with E. J. Dionne and Thomas E. Mann and “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism” (Basic Books, 2012) with Thomas E. Mann. His other books include, “The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track” (Oxford University Press, 2006) with Thomas E. Mann; and “The Permanent Campaign and Its Future” (AEI Press, 2000) edited with Thomas E. Mann.

Dr. Ornstein has a PhD and a master’s in political science from the University of Michigan and a BA from the University of Minnesota.

Norman Ornstein Speaking 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)

Norman Ornstein Videos

  • How to Fix Democracy | Norman Ornstein - YouTube
    Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has been immersed in U.S. politics since the late 1960s and has ...
  • State of emergency: Norman Ornstein on Trump's border wall
    Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and a contributing editor for the Atlantic, says that...
  • Norman Ornstein | 2014 Thomas W. Lambeth Lecture at UNC-Chapel Hill
    Norman Ornstein is a political scientist, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and long-time observer and scholar of Congress and...

Norman Ornstein Books

  • It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism
    It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism
  • The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
    The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)

Speaker Lists Featuring Norman Ornstein

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    Norman Ornstein generally travels from Washington, DC, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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Norman Ornstein is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Understanding the Upcoming Election, What's So Funny About Washington, Other Topics, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: Political Polarization in Washington and The Institution of Compromise: Why Hyper-partisanship is No Laughing Matter. The estimated speaking fee range to book Norman Ornstein for your event is $10,000 - $20,000. Norman Ornstein generally travels from Washington, DC, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Linda Chavez, Ben Domenech, Ben Stein, Todd Buchholz and Frank Luntz. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Norman Ornstein for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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