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Politics in the Trenches: Citizens, Politicians, and the Fate of Democracy Paperback – January 1, 2001

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"Writing from the perspective of a political practitioner, Volgy presents a narrative aimed at correcting the negative stereotype of politicians as corrupt, inept, self-serving, and lazy. Concentrating mostly on the work of local elected officials, Volgy provides a summary and analysis of different types of local political systems, the salaries and duties of local officials, and a sketch of the complex schedule facing leaders on a typical day. . . . This brief book is well-written, and Volgy's personal story as a first-generation immigrant who escaped Hungary with his parents is compelling. . . . Recommended for general readers." —Choice
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816520860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816520862
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,056,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason W. Marchmon on August 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
"I lived in this community for twenty years, and everyone I came into contact with trusted and liked me. As soon as I got on the city council, it meant an instant loss of credibility. All of a sudden, anyone who didn't like what I was doing would immediately challenge my integrity and motives."

The above quote, unfortunately, appears to reflect the feelings of a majority of both the constituents and elected officials in the United States. In an effort to enlighten and elevate the average American citizen above the level of an armchair analyst, Thomas J. Volgy, after fourteen years in public office and a thirty year career as a political scientist, wrote Politics in the Trenches: Citizens, Politicians, and the Fate of Democracy.

"Politics is a constant process of conflict over values and policy positions". Everyone who's taken a government or civics class, has voted, or knows anyone in politics should know this. In Trenches, Volgy feels it's necessary that all citizens know and remember this point to continue the American democratic experiment. Without our social capital, our democracy "will wither and die." How true...

Volgy's most important ideas presented in Politics in the Trenches are (in no specific order): the Founding Fathers were pragmatists, rather than ideologues; local governance and involvement in the local laboratory is key to the connection between citizens and national ideologies, including direct democracy and representation; negative portrayals and simplification of complex issues in "time bites" by the American media create an artificial closeness; whether the news is actually useful; campaign finance is strongly needed to level the playing field and allow for a modest turnover so more people can be a part of the experiment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marnie R. Parkinen on May 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for an Intro to Political Science course, and even though PolySci isn't my favorite subject, I really enjoyed this book. Volgy brings us in the daily life of a local politician, and we can witness first hand how they work a lot behind the scenes to make a better life within their communties. A lot of people (like me) are "free-riders" who don't really know a lot of how things in our communties happen. He also brings in how the media only covers interesting stuff, and doesn't give him enough time to really say what is going on. He has a 30 second window, to try to talk of what he is doing. Great book! I could not put it down...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew A. Payton on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must say I was nervous to have to read this book for my introduction to political science class. My first thought was, this is just going to be a typical political book attacking the other political party. Was I wrong or what? Politics in the Trenches talks about the positive things that political figures do behind the scenes. We are in a world where media has taken over many subjects. In this easy to read memoir, Thomas Volgy talks about his experience in office and it is a must read. Easy and great read that is full of knowledge and passion. I recommend this book for anyone who is not absorbed in the media and have an open mind.
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Politics in the Trenches: Citizens, Politicians, and the Fate of Democracy
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