One of the mysteries of contemporary American politics is how, in the wake of triangulating Democrats, a small base of conservative Republicans has steered the country so far to the right. In this book, two political science professors from Yale and Berkeley examine ascendant far-right Republicans and offer a sobering analysis of their strategies, many of which, the authors argue, have weakened the ordinary voter's power to "ensure that American politics remains on center." Closely-argued and very readable, the book never sinks under the weight of its details; the authors use an ironic list of rules like "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There" to give chapter and verse on how the ultra-right "hide their radicalism in a thicket of policy detail" and use poll-driven language to sex-up initiatives lacking popular support. There are excellent passages on the "fiscal chicanery" of recent tax cuts and several damning vignettes of the maneuvers behind corporate energy subsidies, Medicare privatization and the Bush administration's complicity in relaxing environmental and work safety regulations. The authors compare "The New Power Brokers" who guide this revolution (Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Grover Norquist and Tom DeLay) to the Medici, but they emerge from these pages like little Machiavellis: ignoring dissent, threatening to fund the conservative rivals of moderate Republicans and quietly undermining alternative power bases. The authors believe this deep-pocketed elite will control the Republican party for some time to come. If that is true, this book should become required reading for anyone interested in the triumph of the neocons or worried about where they are leading America.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Hacker and Pierson shrewdly assess the new structures of political power in our country and the success of conservative Republicans in mobilizing resources and framing political choices. This book is innovative, it’s important, and it will open many eyes. It is the book Karl Rove would wish he had written–if he were on the other side.”—E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Stand Up, Fight Back and Why Americans Hate Politics
(E. J. Dionne, Jr.)
"Hacker and Pierson have produced the most penetrating study of contemporary American politics since Thomas and Mary Edsall's Chain Reaction. (And that was over fourteen years ago....) Every political journalist in America needs to read and heed this brilliant book."—Eric Alterman, author of When Presidents Lie and What Liberal Media?
"Off-Center proves two points beyond reasonable dispute. The first is that the current paralysis and polarization of the American political system is not some split-the-difference, everyone's-to-blame phenomenon. Instead, its worst aspects are direct results of Republican extremist tactics over the last decade. The second is that the consequences are bad for nearly everyone in the country, except for the very richest people and corporations. The book makes an important case convincingly."—James Fallows, author of Breaking the News
"Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson announce something that everyone will—and should—pay attention to. They have done something in this book that political scientists rarely do: they dissect the broad meaning of current political dynamics. By applying political science concepts to current events in very accessible ways, they help lay readers to get the big picture of contemporary American politics."—Richard Valelly, Swarthmore College
"Outdated political science clichés go flying like bad guys in a Kung Fu movie in this revelatory new book. American politics is supposed to be prone to stalemate. Extremists are supposed to be relegated to the dustbin of history. So how come policies so radically at odds with what the American people say they want have been locked in for the next generation? Hacker and Pierson brilliantly nail the case: the Republicans have rigged the system. Off Center provides the missing piece from What's the Matter with Kansas?: how they committed the crime, and where they hid the bodies. Pundits: read it and heed it."—Rick Perlstein, author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
"Off Center offers a penetrating and provocative commentary on the current state of party politics in the United States. Hacker and Pierson lend their considerable analytical gifts to one of the most important developments of our time—the emergence of a militantly conservative Republican Party that shapes the political agenda, controls the major governing institutions, and is poised to recast the welfare state in its own image. Not everyone will agree with the arguments of this book, yet no serious student of American politics will dare ignore the profound questions it raises about vitality of American democracy."—Sidney M. Milkis, White Burkett Miller Professor of Politics, University of Virginia
(Sidney M. Milkis)
"Off Center is an important and provocative new book. It will capture imaginations and inspire argument both in academic circles and among the educated public. This book will be widely read—and vociferously debated—in colleges and universities and in the media. I think this is a home run.”—Theda Skocpol, Harvard University
“The young authors are progressives. . . .public intellectuals with expert research skills. . . .their pithy, well-written book is certainly worth reading.”
(John J. Dilulio Jr., Chronicle of Higher Education
"[This] book offers one of the more original and thought-provoking takes on American politics in recent years."
(Eyal Press Nation
"An important new book."—Paul Krugman, New York Times
(Paul Krugman New York Times
"Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson argue convincingly. . . . The book's detail, specificity, and comprehensiveness make it a vital contribution."—Christopher Hayes, Washington Monthly
(Christopher Hayes Washington Monthly