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Adrian Vermeule, The Interaction of Democratic Mechanisms, 18 Good Soc'y 21 (2009).

Abstract: Mechanisms identifies tools of institutional design “writ small” that promote democratic values. Those tools include the veil of uncertainty, submajority voting rules, absolute majority voting rules, rules of delayed and selective transparency, and institutions for promoting legislative deliberation on constitutional questions. In this response, I go beyond the book to consider the complex interaction of democratic mechanisms, both on the demand side (what mechanisms are desirable?) and on the supply side (what mechanisms will political actors have the capacity and incentive to supply?). On the demand side, I consider cases in which mechanisms relate as complements, as substitutes, or in a fashion that is uncertain from the standpoint of the institutional designer. On the supply side, I consider the optimal scope of democratic reforms, the optimal majority for obtaining reform, and problems arising from the general theory of second best.