Norman Ornstein

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Not to be confused with Norman Orenstein.
Norman Ornstein

Norman J. Ornstein is a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a Washington D.C. think tank. He was the co-writer (along with Thomas E. Mann) of It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.


Ornstein was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota[1] in 1948 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1974.

Ornstein studies American politics and is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post and many magazines, such as The Atlantic and the National Journal.[2] He wrote a weekly column for Roll Call from 1993 until April 10, 2013, and is currently co-director, along with Thomas E. Mann, of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project. He helped draft key parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act.[3] Ornstein considers himself a centrist.[4]

Ornstein is a member of the Advisory Board of the Future of American Democracy Foundation,[5] a non-profit, nonpartisan foundation in partnership with Yale University Press and the Yale Center for International and Area Studies "dedicated to research and education aimed at renewing and sustaining the historic vision of American democracy".[6] He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Law and Politics at the University of Minnesota Law School.[7] Ornstein is also a member of the Board of Directors of the nonpartisan election reform group Why Tuesday?.

Ornstein is married to Judith L. Harris, a litigation attorney specializing in regulatory matters. He is a long-time friend of U.S. Senator and left-leaning comedian Al Franken.[4] A fictional version of Ornstein appears in Franken's political spoof novel Why Not Me? as the campaign manager for Franken's improbable presidential run.[8]

Foreign Policy named Ornstein, along with Thomas E. Mann, one of its 2012 Top 100 Global Thinkers "for diagnosing America's political dysfunction".[9]

As of 2013, Ornstein has become known for "blistering critiques of Congress", which he has been following for the past three decades.[2][10]



  1. ^ St. Louis Park Historical Society biography of Norman Ornstein
  2. ^ a b Coleman, Michael (2013-11-29). "Scholar Pins Congressional Dysfunction Squarely on GOP". Washington Diplomat. Retrieved 2013-12-21. 
  3. ^ Richey, Warren, "Court Upholds 'Soft Money' Ban", The Christian Science Monitor, 11 December 2003. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b Ornstein, Norman (10 September 2007). "My Neocon Problem". The New Republic. Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Future of American Democracy Foundation website
  6. ^ The Future of American Democracy Series
  7. ^ Institute for Law and Politics Advisory Board web page
  8. ^ O'Rourke, P. J. "If Elected, I Will Not Serve for Long." (Book review.) The New York Times, 02-14-1999.
  9. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 26 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Dying Art of Legislating". New York Times. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2014. 

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