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Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It Hardcover – October 3, 2017
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"Jason Altmire was a throwback to our better angels -- to a time when a brave few in each party dared to talk to the other party. Thing is, this former Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman was doing this, or trying to, just a few years ago. This isn't ancient history. The cooperation ingrained in doing the people's work is our history. Whatever your thoughts on how we got so divisive, hear from a guy who was working the front lines, simply imploring his colleagues to just get something done." --Neil Cavuto, Senior Vice President and Anchor, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network
"Congressman Jason Altmire was one of the most thoughtful, pragmatic voices in the House when he served, so it's not surprising that he's tackling the subject of rampant polarization with refreshing candor and independent insights in his first book. Most importantly, he offers solutions to help break the excessive partisanship that has poisoned our country's politics. This book couldn't have come at a better time." --Josh Kraushaar, Politics Editor at National Journal
"Jason Altmire has written an insightful book on how Washington has become more polarized and dysfunctional. He highlights the reasons why centrists in both parties have disappeared and why compromise is regarded as a four-letter word by factions on both the left and the right. Whether you're a political junkie or someone who just wants to know how and why our political system has changed in recent years, you should read this book." --Bob Cusack, Editor in Chief at The Hill newspaper
"Altmire brings a unique mix of academic rigor and personal experience to analyzing the underlying causes of our nation's deep political polarization. With the critical eye of a political scientist and using fresh behind-the-scenes anecdotes from his time in Congress, he lays waste to common myths as certainly as he lays out his vision for healing the ills that plague our body politic. Anyone interested in why Washington is failing to meet the needs of voters - and how that can change - should read this book." --Jonathan Allen, New York Times bestselling coauthor of the Hillary Clinton biographies "Shattered" and "HRC," and Roll Call columnist
"If you believe we need practical and common sense solutions to the ruinous gridlock which afflicts every level of government, then Jason Altmire's book is a must-read. Full of interesting anecdotes and feasible ideas for forming a more perfect union, Dead Center is required reading for anyone interested in learning how we can bridge the divide. Pragmatic leaders -- young and old -- should advance these concepts so critical to the well-being of our citizens and their American democracy." --Mark Schweiker (R), 44th Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
"If you are looking for a silver bullet to awaken Americans from their malaise, you are on a fool's errand. But if you absorb Jason Altmire's wisdom in Dead Center, you will be on the path to understanding why America is going through its crisis of civic disengagement and what can be done to reawaken our traditional civic spirit. As Dead Center describes from the experience of a smart politician and the analysis of respected scholars, the solutions to our civic illness are as complex as its causes. Aptly titled, Dead Center is the nutritiously balanced recipe for civic recovery from civic education to reducing the influence of money in politics to encouraging timorous citizens to become active participants -- maybe even candidates -- for public and civic leadership. -- Bob Graham (D), former U.S. Senator and Governor of Florida
About the Author
Jason Altmire served three terms in the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. He was a bipartisan centrist known for working with both sides of the aisle, which led to an extraordinary record of legislative success. He had 29 of his legislative initiatives signed into law, went five and a half years without missing a single vote, and introduced a bipartisan bill that gained the most cosponsors of any congressional bill in American history. During his time in office, the nonpartisan National Journal calculated Altmire's voting record to be at the exact midpoint of the House -- the Dead Center -- giving him the most centrist voting record in Congress. He has been profiled by numerous national publications and has appeared on a wide variety of television news programs. A business executive and nationally recognized expert on healthcare issues, Altmire earned a Master's degree in Health Administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University. He has also been an adjunct professor at George Washington University, focusing on politics and policy. He lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida with his wife Kelly. They have two daughters.
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The book's subtitle says that something can be done about it and the final chapter offers sane and reasonable solutions that may require monumental effort and dedication if they are to be accomplished. As the author says, "In the end, the burden falls on us. America gets the Congress that we the people elect."
Drawing upon his personal history and experiences, former Congressman Jason Altmire cites research studies and polls that help to explain the dynamics of this polarization. He clarifies relevant elements of civics, and looks at the psychology behind the thinking that guides our own involvement.
He says that we need to elect more centrists because the majority of every day Americans are not being represented by the party extremists that rule today. In addition to the multiple reforms that will be required of Congress, it is imperative to find ways to increase the voter turnout and make it more difficult for ideologues to dominate. Altmire's own experiences as a Congressman are evidence that moderation is discouraged and compromise is punished.
This book is educational, enlightening, interesting and easy to understand. The recommendations are certainly reasonable, and the call for moderation and compromise is mandatory and logical if we hope to have a Congress that represents all Americans.
-- Terry Rajasenan, Scientist and Researcher