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It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged


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It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism + Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy + The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.; Unabridged edition (June 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 147082387X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470823870
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

''The phrase 'essential reading' does not begin to get at the importance of this passionate warning by two of our very best political scientists about our nation's capacity to govern itself. Mann and Ornstein sweep aside the timid conventional wisdom to inform Americans that our problems are even worse than we think they are. It is absolutely vital that this book's findings and message enter the consciousness and consciences of journalists, politicians, and citizens who care about the future of our republic.'' --E. J. Dionne, National Book Award nominee

''This is an exceptionally important and cogent analysis of America's breakdown in self-governance. It is an urgent warning of the consequences of our intolerant politics and governing paralysis and ways to fix it.'' --Chuck Hagel, former US senator and distinguished professor, Georgetown University

''One doesn't have to agree with every one of Mann and Ornstein's proposals to appreciate the extraordinary contribution to improving governance that they make in this important book. We could do no better than to use it as a compelling blueprint for urgently needed reform. If every member of Congress would read just one book on the subject, my wish is that it would be this one.'' --Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader

''More than any time in my lifetime, the United States is challenged at home and so is our place in the world. When Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein get together to sound a loud alarm about the way our political system is being torn apart, it's time to listen -- and listen hard. Then the tough part -- how do we restore some sense of common purpose, of working together to make our government work? Mann and Ornstein set out ways to rebuild political bridges, beginning right now. We'd better get to work.'' --Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve

About the Author

THOMAS E. MANN is the W. Averell Harriman Chair and senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He is a former executive director of the American Political Science Association. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the author of a weekly column for Roll Call called ''Congress Inside Out.''He lives in Washington, DC.

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Customer Reviews

This book provides great insight into the nature of our current dysfunctional political system.
J.B.
Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein are noted scholars of American politics both of whom are well respected by members of the republican and democratic parties.
Joseph J. Hazewski
I think one of the problems with this book will be getting the people who need to read it to read it.
Brian Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

521 of 570 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Na on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What this book IS NOT is another silly polemic designed for the polarized Sunday talk shows. This is a careful, thoughtful discussion of the problems at the heart of our dysfunctional Congress.

This is a book every American should read. It discusses the problems that led to this, it discusses bromides that should be rejected and proposes thoughtful solutions that are well reasoned even if some may be difficult politically to implement.

Check out NPR's April 30 edition of Morning Edition for an interview with the authors.

The authors are political scientists who've studied Congress for 4 decades and aren't just talking head political pundits. They don't let the Democrats off the hook but they lay the chief blame for the current dysfunction in Congress upon the Republicans. Their reasoning is based based on a number of factors. High on the list are the tactics Republican Congressional leaders employed during the ceiling debt fiasco of 2011 (see update below). It is the authors' judgment that by implying to the world that Republicans preferred to have the US default on its debt rather than have a compromise with the Democrats that included revenue as part of the agreement, the Republicans took Congressional dysfunction to a new extreme.

The authors make a good case. But what makes this book really fascinating is the level of scholarship, the wealth of political science material and the long term view.

For example, there is a graph of party polarization as calculated by roll call votes. It shows that the polarization is at an all time extreme since 1879, 133 years ago. This speaks to the seriousness of what faces this country.
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252 of 288 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Collins on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Two respected policy analysts, one from a liberal think tank, the other from a conservative one, have stated for us news junkies a verity which is obvious, yet not well understood in its implications for conducting future sane policies.

As a former Republican when moderate Republicans were uncricified in that Party, I can well appreciate their concerns as stated in their May 1, 2012 Washington Post article: "It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharp0ly to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate---think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel--are virtually extinct."

The implications for that extremism are dramatic. Inability to compromise or to make any connections with the other party means (again from the Post piece) "When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges."

In short, they write, "The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in Americn politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of is political opposition."

They mention the charge reminisent of Joe McCarthy from Congressman Allen West (R-Fl) who stated that "78 to 81" Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist Party, regretting that virtually no Republican challenged that absurd comment.

This situation produced almost complete gridlock, as issues such as our obscenely huge debt, health care reform and climate change are lost in Republican embrace of ideologies which lead to no decisions.

This stark book needs wide embrace by independent voters who will determine the next election.
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122 of 147 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The authors, Mann and Ornstein, took up residence at the Brookings Institute (Mann) and the American Enterprise Institute (Ornstein), helping ensure objectivity; usually this also ensures that any conclusions are vague and mushy. Not here - their 'bottom-line' is that today's Congressional Republicans behave like they were in a British parliamentary, winner-take-all system. The problem is that such 'ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional' doesn't work in our 'separation-of-powers system that makes it extremely difficulty for majorities to work their will.' (My one criticism of this book is that it didn't really explain why the English system works in England and not in America.)

Republicans are now 'more loyal to party than to country,' and the political system hobbled and unable to address serious problems and threats. They are scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional facts, evidence and science, and dismissive of Democrats' legitimacy.

The most glaring example is how House Republicans addressed the need to raise the debt ceiling in 2011. And its going to be repeated in 2013, per Senator McConnell in a Fox News statement.

Adding to this partisan warfare is the increased role of money on our politics - the worst of any time in over a century, possibly ever.

The authors grant former Speaker Gingrich special dishonor - painting the House as elitist, corrupt and arrogant when the Democrats controlled. His strategy - convince voters the institution was so corrupt that anyone wold be better than the Democratic incumbents.
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