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Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny Hardcover – June 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The monumental difficulty of running for president of the United States as a third party or independent candidate is the subject of this informative but sometimes tedious chronicle by Ralph NaderÖs former campaign manager, who frames her crusade to get Nader onto the ballots in the 2000 and 2004 elections as a stand to give voters more voices and more choices. An NYU law school graduate, Amato brings a lawyerÖs sensibility to the book and details the endless technicalities, lawsuits and court rulings that NaderÖs team faced. This diligent chronicling could be essential reading for anyone planning to mount or advise an independent or third party run for president, but it is hard to imagine that the general reader will be captivated by the rented office space scandal of June 2004 and other such complications. Despite the bookÖs flaws, Amato displays an encyclopedic knowledge of election law, and her recommendations for election reform, including a comprehensive plan for Federal Administration and Financing of Elections, are crucial contributions to the debate over election law. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Until you have run, as I did, outside the two major parties, it is impossible to imagine the injustices of the two-party-tilted electoral process. Theresa Amato masterfully exposes the horrors faced by third-party and Independent candidates seeking the chance to compete and provide political choices for the American voter."
—John Anderson, former Independent presidential candidate and chair of the Center for Voting and Democracy

"Theresa Amato takes the biggest swing--not a jab, but a roundhouse punch--at America's corrupt electoral system."
—Phil Donahue

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; 1st edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583949
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #865,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edit of 29 Jun 09 to correct 25% of the black population, thanks Mikey.

Edit of 18 Jun 09 to add two books by others and downgrade own books to unlinked mention.

Do not be surprised if your vote "disappears". Amazon has the idea that anyone who votes for more than one of my reviews is a "fan" and should not count. We are all at the mercy of their control of the system.

I am giving this book five stars instead of four because it is the de facto "Bunker Hill" of our 21st Century Nation, doing for politics what Silent Spring did for the environment.

The book needs to be re-issued immediately in paperback with four additions that should themselves be offered free online: an annotated bibliography that properly embraces those who have gone before; an annotated legal list of cases; a list of the worst of the 527's; and a Presidential Decision Memorandum that itemizes the Electoral Reform Act of 2009.

The book does not acknowledge work by many including William Greider, e.g. Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy or Greg Palast, e.g. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. The latter bears on the author's being unwitting about Al Gore being bought off in Florida (today he is worth $100 million), with Warren Christopher carrying the offer from Wall Street.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Pat Choate on June 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Grand Illusion
The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
(The New Press: New York, 2009)
By Theresa Amato

A Review by Pat Choate

As the 1996 presidential election approached, the Association of State Green Parties was looking for someone to be their candidate for President. The person they drafted was Ralph Nader; one of the most respected public figures in the United States.

Although the Greens were able to get Nader on the ballot in 22 states, he never had a chance of winning the presidency. However, presidential campaigns are about far more than winning. Being in a race for the Presidency, a candidate has an opportunity to raise issues with the American public in a serious forum. Thus, Nader used the race to highlight policy issues that Bill Clinton, the Democratic candidate, and Robert Dole, the Republican candidate ignored, such as the outsourcing of jobs and industries because of the U.S. participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the lack of a national health care agenda. The race provided a unique opportunity, and he made good use of it.

Bill Clinton, the sitting President, easily won the election. Nader got 684,000 votes or slightly less than one percent. Yet, something else happened in that election of great significance. The newly formed Reform Party, and its candidate Ross Perot, received slightly more than eight million votes, though Dole and Clinton blocked his participation in the Presidential debates. Under the 1974 Campaign Reform Act if a party secures five percent or more of the popular vote, they qualify as a "National Party" and thus public funding for the next Presidential election.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Wasik on September 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is the political equivalent of Upton Sinclair's "Jungle." Not only has Theresa Amato been in the political abattoirs of two national presidential campaigns, she knows pernicious abuses of a two-party oligarchy intimately. Why haven't we been able to pass a national health care program? How do stupid, costly and disastrous wars start and linger on for years? Why do 90 million Americans not even bother to vote? Why can't we disconnect our retirement funds, mortgages and jobs from the market economy? Ms. Amato plunges deep into the chasm of electoral politics to give us a glimpse of our fractured democracy and tells us how we can preserve and defend it. This is essential reading for all Americans who want their vote to count, their voice heard and their lives protected. This should be mandatory reading for all high school, law and political science students. Why can't we have an opt-out system where 18-year-olds are automatically registered to vote in a federalized system? Why can't we have multiple parties with a voice in Congress and state legislatures? Europe has this kind of system and it has not fallen into fascism! Why not change the electoral college so that it can allocate proportional representation instead of a winner-take-all rule? As we grapple with the myriad problems of this century, fairer and more enlightened political representation is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Read this book. John Wasik, author of "The Audacity of Help: Obama's Economic Plan and the Remaking of America."
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