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Our Divided Political Heart [Kindle Edition]

E.J. Dionne
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book Description

America today is at a political impasse; we face a nation divided and discontented. Acclaimed political commentator E.J. Dionne argues that Americans can't agree on who we are as a nation because we can't agree on who we've been, or what it is, philosophically and spiritually, that makes us "Americans." Dionne places our current quarrels in the long-standing tradition of struggle between two core values: the love of individualism and our reverence for community. Both make us who we are, and to ignore either one is to distort our national character. He sees the current Tea Party as a representation of hyper-individualism, and takes on their agenda-serving distortions of history, from the Revolution to the Civil War and the constitutional role of government. Tea Partiers have reacted fiercely to President Obama, who seeks to restore a communitarian balance - a cause in American liberalism which Dionne traces through recent decades. The ability of the American system to self-correct may be one of its greatest assets, but we have been caught in cycles of over-correcting. Dionne seeks, through an understanding of our factious past, to rediscover the idea of true progress, and the confidence that it can be achieved.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tea Partiers and Occupiers alike may be surprised and enlightened by this lucid analysis, all the more convincing for its sympathetic treatment of both sides of the argument." ---Publishers Weekly

About the Author

E. J. Dionne, Jr., is an American journalist and political commentator and a long-time op-ed columnist for the Washington Post. He is also a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at Georgetown Public Policy Institute, a senior research fellow at Saint Anselm College, and a commentator for NPR. His published works include the influential bestseller Why Americans Hate Politics, They Only Look Dead, Souled Out, and Stand Up, Fight Back. E. J. lives in Bethesda, Maryland. Audiobook veteran and AudioFile Earphones Award winner Michael Kramer has recorded more than two hundred audiobooks for trade publishers and many more for the Library of Congress Talking Books program. His audiobooks include North and South by John Jakes, and a number of other Jakes titles; capers and mysteries by Donald E. Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark), including Money for Nothing; and Robert Jordan's fantasy-adventure fiction. In addition, Michael received Audie Award nominations for The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson and Dead Aim by Thomas Perry, and a Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Award for Savages by Don Winslow.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2077 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608192016
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007N6JDEI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,446 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
123 of 128 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Authors writing about political partisanship try not to offend either side--lest liberals and conservatives retreat to their talking points and shut down debate. To avoid appearing too partisan they analyze how historical precedents (especially those set forth by the founders or in the Constitution) relate to our current situation. For example:

* In Drift, Rachel Maddow cites how the founders (particularly Jefferson) rejected large standing militaries but how presidents since Reagan have found roundabout ways to conduct continuous military actions.
* In It's Even Worse Than It Looks, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein describe how the constitutional system struggles to work within the ideology-driven environment that has evolved over the last 40 years.
* In The Republican Brain, Chris Mooney explicitly recommends such a story strategy--"liberals and scientists should find some key facts--the best facts--and integrate them into stories that move people [and]... here is where you really have to admire conservatives. Their narrative of the founding of the country, which casts the U.S. as a "Christian nation" and themselves as the Tea Party, is a powerful story that perfectly matches their values. It just happens to be wrong. But liberals will never defeat it factually--they have to tell a better story of their own."

This is kind of the strategy E.J. Dionne takes in Our Divided Political Heart but with some interesting twists. As a Brookings colleague of Thomas Mann, Dionne's narrative shares some similarities with Mann's description of how and when conservatives got onto their current path. But Dionne doesn't focus much on conservatives vs. liberals or on ways to resolve the current impasse.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By jem
Format:Hardcover
When "liberal" versus "conservative" has become a daily diet among op-ed columnists, what a treasure it is to read a conscientious journalist committed to discovering, describing, and synthesizing historical interpretations regarding the contradictory duality of individual and community responsibility which is the heart and strength of American democracy. Dionne credits President Clinton for one of the most dramatic illustrations of this philosophy by pulling a penny from his pocket and reading from the side next to Lincoln's picture the single word, "Liberty" and turning it over to read from the other side, "E Pluribus Unum" -- Out of Many, One.

E.J. Dionne's "Our Divided Political Heart" is challenging reading but deeply rewarding. He emphasizes the fact that historical interpretations both reflect and shape current policy. He cites the example of President Reagan popularizing the ideal of Winthrop's "City on a Hill" but practically no one who admires the slogan is aware that the Puritan leader admonished his fellow citizens "We must delight in each other, make others' conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body." Only when struck by disasters such as a tornado or hurricane do large numbers of us reflect that standard. We find no irony in idolizing cultural heroes from both sides of this heritage -- think "It's a Wonderful Life" and "High Noon.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
*****
"This book is an effort to make sense of our current political unhappiness, to offer an explanation for why divisions in our politics run so deep, and to reflect on why we are arguing so much about our nation's history and what it means."--E. J. Dionne's
*

E. J. Dionne's is my favorite rational liberal political commentator; discussing around a Sunday table with David Brooks will always make my day. The days of political camaraderie are over, but the gifted analyst still prescribes some viable medicines to the current poisoned political milieu. We cannot compromise because we lost the core of our identity, that motivates our exceptionalism. EJ claims: one reason underlying our irritating political lockout, is caused by polarized minds and ego centered hearts; extreme individuality is paralyzing our political will.

Dionne narrates in a vivid analytical tour of American sociopolitical history, the Progressives and the 'New Dealers', starting with the Founding Fathers all the way to the Populists. He offers a compelling analysis of America's contemporary politics, and its current situation that puzzles the American voters at large, as well as the conventional wisdom of political analysts. The federal government has been always considered the active executive partner putting into reality the American population's dreams of opportunity and prosperity.

"A yearning to reverse decline played just below the surface in Obama's campaign in 2008. His victory was a response to a national mood conditioned by anxiety. ..., Americans worried that in the first decade of the new millennium, their country had squandered its international advantages, degraded its power ... in Iraq, and wrecked the federal government's finances.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but not objective.
Well written, but but the cover synopsis suggests Dionne is going to examine both left and right objectively. He doesn't. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Nathanael Miller
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Divided
Dionne leans to the left and I somewhat to the right,It is all complicated by the media as entertainment telling people what they WANT to hear!
Published 7 months ago by rh
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
I purchased this book because I enjoy Dionne's writing. This was so much more. Reading this will make you more accepting of the views of the political party of which you are not... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mike
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Divided Political Heart
E.J. Dionne is a measured, thoughtful and moderate voice in journalism in this time of irrational thinking and turmoil. I will continue to read and consider his opinions.
Published 10 months ago by Barbara Dlugacz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Matter Of Degrees
What is enjoyable about reading Mr. Dionne's book is his even-tempered delivery. You will find no snarky sarcastic sentences written by the author. Yes, Mr. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Franklin the Mouse
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks sense of scale and context
I was really excited to read this book based on its title and subject matter. However in reading this book I found a total lack of context and found the writer's arguments to be... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Drew
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff - liberal bias
It's really good, nice introduction and well written, but it definitely comes at it from a liberal lens. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Oxenrider
2.0 out of 5 stars We wouldn't be so divided if YOU just agreed with ME!!!!!!
This is a tough book to write a review about, do I focus on all of the historical inaccuracies that the author puts forward in his attempt to rewrite history. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Enigma
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, thought provoking book!
I read this for a college paper (I chose the book on my own). It was an interesting and easy read. The author has a very interesting perspective on partisan ideologies that helped... Read more
Published 13 months ago by CSCH
5.0 out of 5 stars Lively insights for America's political gridlock
Fascinating blend of current politics and American political history with many new insights on the enduring themes of our political life and battles. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Frank
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