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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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by Jason Altmire
I requested this book from NetGalley and the review is voluntary.
Politics is a very difficult to talk about and to read. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to write about but Mr Altmire does it admirably. He does it without accusations, blaming sides, talking down, getting too political, or bogging the reader with little details. This is the history of how this country, in the recent history, has come to be so divided. It makes a lot of sense if I like it or not. He goes on to describe so many things I would never have thought of. I guess that is why he is who he is and I am not into politics. It takes someone that knows about the workings of the government and the people to understand.
The book also makes a point that most people would rather have a candidate that is not in the center of there party. They like the far right or far left. Then this is discussed as to how this leads to further divide. Why don't we like the center? Wouldn't the center be better, work harder, get things done?
This is a common sense, no nonsense, open, non-judgemental book that I enjoyed. Yes, a political book I enjoyed! I did read it in parts, I can't read any political book all at once, LOL
If only we could get the President and Congress to read it too!
The book addresses the current polarization of political parties in America, an issue that is apparently neglected as citizens’ approval of the U.S. Congress is down to single digits. Mr. Altmire’s book reveals that approximately 20% of Americans fall on the extreme left or right of the political line, while most people gravitate toward the center and would like to see more compromise between parties, even if that meant the bills they supported were watered down in order to achieve that goal.
In the first part of the book, Mr. Altmire relates his experiences while serving as a representative in the U.S. Congress, relating the challenges experienced by a “centrist.” The author ran in a contested region, and felt his moderate views aided his election and subsequent reelections. He then follows that with his thoughts and suggestions on how America could institute ideas that could help ease the polarization we currently experience. Mr. Altmire spares neither party, and readers not wishing to approach this book with an open mind may find some sections disturbing. Some may take issue with the candor expressed when relating stories of the Democrats’ political pressure he experienced choosing not to toe the party line (Mr. Altmire felt he needed to represent his district). Others may not like his criticisms of Republicans in some of the situations described in the book. At these times, it is important to remember that a centrist will not vote consistently with a particular political party, and as such, Mr. Altmire’s views will reflect that philosophy.
Some may question why the book states that a minority of the U.S. citizens appear to control our elections, resulting in congressional representatives that lean heavily to the far right or the far left. Mr. Altmire spends much time explaining how the situation began and the causes that continue to insert themselves between elected officials, forcing them further and further apart. He bases his theories on facts and provides a wealth of footnotes for readers to investigate.
While I did not agree with all of the author’s solutions to the polarization issue, what is refreshing is that he is choosing to speak up and address a serious issue that currently plagues our country. I personally would be happy to see some or all of his suggestions implemented, knowing full well that I do not agree with all of them. However, that is what Mr. Altmire is talking about. Compromise is not getting the other person to accept all of your talking points, it is a give and take that results in laws that accommodate both sides. This book is a step in that direction. Five stars.
This is a thought provoking read that raises the important point that the majority of America is not, in fact, extreme in their views. However, the "power" of those inclined to make their voices heard, in the absence of action by the centrist majority, is undoubtedly having a profound effect on the divisiveness that defines politics today.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in an objective assessment of politics today, and discussion as to what it will take to get the political process back on track so it truly represents "all" the people.
This is an important book for our current political climate. It is quite difficult to argue with how severely our country is being divided by partisan politics, yet, that seems to be all that we seem to discuss on any given day. This divide led to an especially divided and nasty election in 2016, leaving many voters torn between two candidates they traditionally never would have considered to vote for in the past. By interjecting personal experiences of trying to operate as a centrist, the author provides the audience insight into the belly of the beast, as it were. Without getting too formal or condescending, former Representative Altmire is able to give a civics lesson and a tell-all look at American politics simultaneously.