From Publishers Weekly
Where Bugliosi (The Betrayal of America) and Dershowitz (Supreme Injustice) have indicted the Supreme Court for subverting the Constitution in Bush v. Gore, political analyst Lazare (The Frozen Republic) indicts the Constitution itself for subverting democracy. It bases government on the medieval, pre-democratic notion of law ruling over a people, rather than being a tool of popular self-government, to be changed as needed. Lazare links Americans' reverential attitude toward the Constitution to the early 1700s British Country opposition to the emerging parliamentary system. American arguments for independence and the Constitution drew on the Country opposition's veneration for Britain's ancient, unwritten constitution, which proved totally inadequate in meeting the challenges of 18th-century modernization. As a thinly populated backwater, America (unlike Britain) could get along by reincarnating ancient principles of divided power and limited government, complete with powerful minority vetoes on various levels. Lazare moves briskly from early modern England through the Constitutional Convention, the Civil War and into the present day. He portrays the period from Nixon onward as largely continuous, a protracted constitutional crisis resulting from the fact that limited, separate powers can lead to extreme, unforeseen reactions (Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Clinton impeachment, Bush v. Gore) as well as long-term stability. He concludes by arguing the possibility and necessity of escaping our constitutional bonds if, for example, Gore were to run in 2004, pledging to abide by the popular vote and challenging Bush to do likewise. This is a fast-paced historical illumination of just how deeply the Constitution can be seen as hostile to democracy. (Oct. 18)Forecast: Lazare's radical analysis is not likely to have the broad appeal of Dershowitz or Bugliosi's election postmortems, but if it gets reviewed, it could spark a lively and original debate.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Lazare (America's Undeclared War: What's Killing Our Cities and How We Can Stop It) minces no words in expressing his disdain for a system of government that he feels is archaic and sclerotic. He focuses his wrath squarely on the U.S. Constitution and all of its institutional offspring. The election fiasco of fall 2000 is, according to Lazare, only the latest in a series of civil, political, and legal infringements on the people's right of self-government perpetrated by a document that was the product of two centuries of English civil strife, colonization, and revolution, a process that began under Elizabeth I in the 1500s. Now it is time for the people to demand a reexamination of the problems and injustices perpetuated by that document, such as the Electoral College, the lack of proportional representation in the U.S. Senate, the occasional Imperial Presidency, separation of powers, states' rights, an omnipotent Supreme Court, and an amending process that is difficult at best. Lazare advocates a shift to elementary democratic norms and a movement to propel it instigated by intellectuals, artisans, and the working class. He makes an articulate and effective spokesman for the concept of radical political change in our constitutional system. Recommended for academic and public libraries. Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.