"Overcoming tribalism and knee-jerk partisanship is the central challenge of our time. Mickey Edwards shows why and how in this fascinating book filled with sensible suggestions."—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
“A spirited, well-constructed argument for reform that does not shy away from comprehensive solutions.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Frustration with bipartisan politics is given lucid voice and direction in former congressman Edwards’s latest: an examination of how the nation can move past party affiliation in order to move forward...The book provides compelling hope for reform."—Publishers Weekly
“Many Americans, whether Democrats, Republicans, independent or otherwise, would welcome a few more like (Edwards) in office."—The Boston Globe
(The Boston Globe
“In ‘The Parties Versus the People’, Mr. Edwards gets to the heart of what most troubles Americans about our government today. Nothing gets done, our elected representatives play the blame game, and the operative word is gridlock. . . . a well-written, thoughtful and timely book.”—The Washington Times
(The Washington Times
"Always thought provoking, in The Parties Versus the People, Mickey Edwards has laid out a challenge to the American people to address the polarization that is so damaging to our political process. Rather than just identifying problems, the author outlines steps that can help right the ship of state. It remains to the voters to accept the challenge he has laid out."—Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator
(Christine Todd Whitman)
"A lucid, important, powerful set of reforms and recommendations for improving the political process."—Marvin Kalb, co-author of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama
"Mickey Edwards has made a clear headed and timely contribution to helping America lead itself out of a polarized political swamp. He anchors his book with the political reality that democratic self-governance comes from mutual respect, the energy of ideas and ultimately consensus. Democracies cannot work any other way. Our citizens, not just our leaders, would greatly benefit from reading Edwards’ important book."—Chuck Hagel, U.S. Senator (1997 – 2009); Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University
"America faces great challenges in a rapidly changing, increasingly competitive world. Regrettably, hyper-partisanship and polarization have created gridlock, threatening this generation's legacy and imperiling our children's' future. Mickey Edwards performs a great public service by identifying not only the problem but also proposing possible solutions. Let us hope that our fellow citizens heed his call and begin once more to define ourselves principally not as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, but as Americans with a common heritage and a common destiny."—Evan Bayh, U.S. Senator (1999-2011)
“Mickey Edwards is a national treasure. As a former member of Congress, a student of government, and a patriot, he cannot sit by and watch the deep dysfunction, indeed the destruction, of our democracy. This book is a credo and a call to arms for all those who believe that politics is about problem-solving rather than partisanship.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
“Edwards’ prescriptions to rescue our democracy loom large . . . short of the structural changes Edwards embraces, dysfunction and stalemate seem the more likely scenarios regardless of who wins the Obama-Romney prize fight.”—Small “r” Republican
(Small "r" Republican
“Mr. Edwards writes persuasively that the two political parties have overtaken our electoral system, leading to the current era of partisan demagoguery (and) lays out a better system that is worth a serious look.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Edwards proposes serious, fundamental, specific reforms to turn our political system upside down and put power back in the hands of the American people”—The Recovering Politician
(The Recovering Politician
“. . . a compelling . . . case that much of the gridlock, intransigence, incivility and dysfunction plaguing government can be traced directly to the domineering, partisan control over both the political process – how we elect our leaders – and the governmental process – how they govern. . . (Edwards) proposes thought-provoking, controversial, and intellectually sound solutions that deserve a full public airing in every corner of the public square . . . “—NewGOPForum.com
“Edwards’ solutions – specific, practical, fair, and original – show the way to break the stranglehold of the political party system.”—Stone Hearth News
(Stone Hearth News
"An urgent and engaging look at how American politics have become the founding fathers’ worst nightmare. Not content to simply criticize, Edwards also proposes solutions to the hyperpartisanship currently corroding civil discourse and resulting in the paralysis of Congress, a serious threat to the American experiment in self-governance... An important—and I believe, enduring—addition to the growing literature of nonpartisan political reform."—John Avlon, Daily Beast
(John Avlon Daily Beast
A conversation with Mickey Edwards
Q: Why this book?
A: Americans have become all too familiar with a government that seems perpetually deadlocked over partisan differences. Democracy depends on competition between alternative visions and energetic debate over proposed policies, but in the end, the sides have to be able to make the compromises that will enable the government to meet its constitutional responsibilities. Instead we have a constant battle between private clubs for advantage in the next election.
After sixteen years as a member of Congress and twenty years of studying government from the outside, I came to realize that we've been wrong about the root of the problem: it's not that we elect the wrong people, we expect them to govern, in a political system that rewards intransigence and considers compromise a sellout. The problem is systemic—closed primaries that narrow voter choices, partisan redistricting, and a Congress of competing teams—and there's no way to fix it except by changing the system itself.
Q: What can we do about it?
A: Ultimately, the people decide. Large numbers of voters no longer feel loyalty to a political party. They have it in their hands to force change through referenda and citizen initiatives, and through direct confrontation with elected officials. We can demand that our government officials serve us not primarily as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans.
Q: Is that realistic?
A: Absolutely: Washington State and California have already changed their systems. Hundreds of thousands of citizens support reform organizations that are working to break down partisan control. More than four in ten voters have rejected the party system. The revolution is already under way.