Handbook on Think Tanks in Public Policy
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Handbook on Think Tanks in Public Policy

Edited by Donald E. Abelson and Christopher J. Rastrick

This important Handbook is a comprehensive guide to the role, function and perceived impact of policy research-oriented institutions in North America, Europe and beyond. Over 20 international scholars explore the diverse and eclectic world of think tanks to reveal their structure, governance and unique position in occupying a critical space on the public-policy landscape.
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Chapter 15: The rise or demise of American think tanks?

Donald E. Abelson


When Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, some political pundits predicted that his 2016 campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp’ in the nation’s capital could signal the demise of American think tanks. With little tolerance, patience or interest in listening to the country’s top policy experts, it is understandable why the future of public policy institutes in the US was called into question. However, rather than succumbing to what has become an extremely toxic and hyper-partisan environment on Capitol Hill and in the White House, many prominent think tanks have continued to make their presence felt. Though unwelcome in Trump’s inner circle, these diverse and eclectic institutions have discovered how best to employ the most effective strategies to shape public opinion and public policy. In doing so, they have both demonstrated their resilience and their capacity to affect policy change.

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