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Editorial Reviews

Review

“James Carville and Stan Greenberg have written one of the finest—and most eye-opening—examinations of how our economy, even when it’s growing, doesn’t increase the incomes of middle class Americans or give poor working people the chance to earn them.  Unless it can be reversed, this trend will limit the future for all Americans.  Carville and Greenberg have some good ideas about how to do that and restore the American Dream, making It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! essential reading for politicians, policy-makers, and concerned citizens.” –President Bill Clinton

“A wonderful takedown of how the middle class has been left feeling betrayed and screwed over by both political parties.” —Huffington Post

“A recipe for President Barack Obama’s re-election….very timely…impressive.” –Associated Press

“Democrats and Republicans alike in the elite and political class should pay heed: these pages contain more than a little truth.” –National Journal

“Top-gun political strategist, ever controversial Ragin’ Cajun James Carville and pollster nonpareil Stan Greenberg deliver the message that could keep Obama in office: It’s The Middle Class, Stupid! But class warfare isn’t the answer (nuts!); it’s for both parties to admit their failures and for regular people to get involved in taking back their country from bigwigs in Wall Street and Washington.” —Elissa Schappel, Vanity Fair

“For political junkies who junkies who enjoy straight-talk policy discussion.” —Kirkus

“Political guru James Carville and savvy pollster Stan Greenberg team up for a presidential campaign-oriented book that will be part of the media circus surrounding the election.” —Booklist

About the Author

James Carville is a political consultant and political science professor at Tulane University. He and his wife, Republican political consultant Mary Matalin, live in New Orleans.

Stan Greenberg is a leading Democratic pollster and political strategist who has advised the campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry, among numerous others. He lives in Washington, D.C., and Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (January 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142196959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142196953
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By R. Sampson on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Carvell and Greenberg to a good job of covering the continuing destruction of the middle class in America, and they make a strong argument that this should be the key focus of the Obama campaign in 2012.

The book includes lots of facts that demonstrate the plight of the majority of working Americans. Incomes have stagnated even though people are working harder (and longer hours), and fewer and fewer average people have health care through their employer. For example, in 1980, 2/3 of high school graduates had a job that included health care; today the figure is only 25%. Income inequality is out of control; the top 1% now owns more that the entire bottom 90% of the population.

The authors believe that while the elite (including Democrats) shy away from "class warfare" most average people understand that the rich started the war long ago, and that it is time to engage the battle. Therefore, they suggest that Obama should embrace this issue and make it central to the campaign.

One disturbing thing is that Carvell and Greenberg seem to be looking for a near landslide Democratic victory, something that would "repudiate the Tea Party" and somehow cause Republicans to be more reasonable in the future. Based on current polling and Republican behavior, I don't see much chance of this...so it's very difficult to be optimistic about the kind of change the authors are hoping for.

Nonetheless, the issues they raise are critical for America, not just for this election but over the next few decades. Technology and globalization continue to advance, and it's a good bet that as a result the problems will get worse and worse. Going forward, robots, artificial intelligence and offshoring are going to make it easier and easier for CEOs and bankers to profit while average workers continue to lose out, and it's hard to see what will turn things around.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Tom Sales on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read and reviewed a lot of political books over the past 3 months, but "It's the Middle Class, Stupid!" is by far the most unashamedly political one of all. The set-up is that Carville & Greenberg are working through arguments and pitches that will appeal to voters to reverse the 2010 trends and get the Democrats back in control of the House, Senate, the presidency, and eventually even the Supreme Court. They make this whole scenario very personal--starting by telling their respective life stories and why they are both the bluest-of-true-blue Democrats.

The book then goes back and forth between them, almost like they're having a conversation and taking advantage of Carville's well-known say-what-you-think style and Greenberg's analytical way of looking at the political landscape. It's pretty compelling. One could envision this conversation happening over a period of months or even in a single particularly insightful day. It's so partisan that Democrats will love it, while Republicans might actually read it--just to see what the other side is thinking. What works about this is that Carville keeps responding emotionally -- watch out Paul Ryan! -- but Greenberg keeps reining him back in ... like "no, that's what politicians might think but the voters are ahead of us and they're smarter than you think." I read a review of another book where the reviewer wondered how two authors collaborated on a book. Kudos here to Carville in his role as bad cop and to Greenberg as good cop (or actually in his case good cop-ywriter).

The result is that over the first half of the book ... with plenty of actual quotes from focus group participants from the middle and working classes, from different races, with and without college degrees (mostly without) ...
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76 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Alan F. Sewell on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm generally a Republican voter, but I've always thought well of James Carville. His heart is clearly in the right place. He wants an America where education and job opportunities are abundant such that everyone can advance to the limit of their ability as he did --- starting out as a poor kid in Louisiana and then achieving success commensurate with talent and ability. He's ferociously partisan, but in a good humored and good natured way. He's married to Republican strategist Mary Matalin, so he hears plenty of Republican input and is a popular guest on Conservative shows. He's thus the kind of political strategist who should be taken seriously by both parties.

I don't know anything about Carville's coauthor Stan Greenberg other than to say that he expresses his own ideas, which are pretty much in synch with Carville's, with clarity. Their conversational give-and-take succeeds in getting their points across in an interesting way.

The first third of this book, like so many others of its genre, is a spot-on description of the anxieties of the middle class:

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The middle class is struggling today because of declining wages, reduced benefits, and crushing costs for the essentials of life. It is the three decades of income squeeze that now drives middle-class identity. They are being screwed because the country's losing ground, not because they think some other group is screwing them-- unless it's the 1 percent. But we'll get to that.
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Carville and Greenberg nail that down point by point: Employment security is a thing of the past. People have become insecure in retirement because defined-benefit pensions are largely extinct. Young people, after racking up mountains of college debt, find employment scarce and low paying.
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