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Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards Hardcover – September 21, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

O'Rourke (On the Wealth of Nations) continues his libertarian attack of current politics. The author, an early editor at National Lampoon, takes on weighty topics like the Bill of Rights, climate change, health care reform, government bailouts, and foreign policy. When he wants to be serious, he quotes from John Locke and Thomas Hobbes; when he wants to be humorous, he brings up Joe Biden and Harry Reid. Republicans get a free ride mostly; if the subject is accumulation of power, Nancy Pelosi tops Dick Cheney. O'Rourke admits he's not a deep thinker, which is why when it comes to stem-cell research, he simply accepts that the dogma of his Catholicism clashes with scientific claims. But without further investigation, he embraces former president Bush's opposition to the research and lambastes president Obama ("damn wrong") for overturning the ban. When all else fails, use a dictionary definition, and O'Rourke breaks out his Webster's more than once. He works hard to lard his arguments with humor, but like much partisan work, these essays are best appreciated by those who already believe. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Power, freedom, and responsibility are the most important elements of democracy, posits O’Rourke, author of Parliament of Whores (1991) and Driving like Crazy (2009). Americans like the freedom part, politicians like the power part, and hardly anyone wants to hear the responsibility part, he laments in this merciless but often humorous look at the shortcomings of American politics. American exceptionalism seems to extend to the fact that no other nation’s “covenants, treaties, conventions, protocols, compacts, and concordants” include the right to the pursuit of happiness. He criticizes liberal politics of universal health care and bailouts but also takes to task the conservatives for blowing a chance to “educate the electorate” and move more citizens into the Republican Party. O’Rourke charts the currents of his own ideological shift from raised Republican to youth as a Democrat for a decade and then a return to Republican as he matured. He dates his conservatism to the day his child was born: “Suddenly I was an opponent of change.” Whether readers agree with O’Rourke’s politics or not, his style is funny, cutting, and insightful. --Vanessa Bush

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119605
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I just happened to buy this book at the airport yesterday before a 4 hour flight. I recognized O'Rourke's name, picked it up, read a couple of paragraphs and decided to plop down the $25 cover price. I had every intention of reading it later in the week, as I was too tired and needed to nap on the plane. Well, I couldn't put it down! I read the entire book! He is witty, incredibly intelligent and even charming in his criticism of our political system and the state of disarray it's in. I may start referring to this as "the new Libertarian manifesto!" Read the chapter on Global Climate Change (where O'Rourke challenges you to go tell 1.2 billion Chinese people that they can't have a car, old stove or fireplace because we think it might be causing the Earth to get warmer) and, if you're anything like me, you'll be hooked!
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Format: Hardcover
Having been a PJ O'Rourke fan since his National Lampoon days, I remain amazed by his ability to make one laugh while making one think. We'd be hard pressed to identify another living American writer whose best one-liners are so widely quoted.

Don't Vote is maddening because it flops back and forth between great and... well, not so great. It contains both some of O'Rourke's most scholarly work - there's a lot of real research here - without sacrificing the wit. In these chapters, his work is sharp, illuminating and still an entertaining read. But Don't Vote also contains a bunch of one-offs that are really nothing more than reprints of some of his magazine articles, and not his best ones at that. These contribute no understanding, don't move the central thesis about government ahead and are really just filler (or worse).

Not bad, but not great. Parliament of Whores is still my favorite O'Rourke rant.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was a good purchase, well worth reading.

American politics are dominated by news bites and slices of incomplete information and people that vote often lack a basic understanding of economic principles or in my opinion much logic. P.J. O'Rourke writes a line about what is wrong with politics, half the voters are less than average intelligence.

Using sarcasm and lots of analogies, he writes short examples of why certain political issues are often carried to absurdity, states like California with strict gun laws have lots of murders while those with very lax laws don't, for example, and also that we should probably have vote control because voting leads to politicians taking us into war which leads for far more deaths caused by guns.

He writes about the futility of much of the left and right ranting (radio, books, etc.) because it's like preaching to the little old ladies wearing white hats in the choir.

I enjoyed how he worded the observation that we allow 19 year old's to vote, but we don't trust them with a beer.

Just because he uses lots of tongue-in-cheek humor, sarcasm, and analogies that could be seen as over the top in there usage, he is obviously a well read and well informed and well connected person and his writing is crisp and straight forward. Much of the chapters read like part of a conversation with a neighbor over a beer while bar-b-cuing some burgers. Good old fashioned complaining about how stupid so much of the American political scene is, was, and will be for the foreseeable future.

He points out that taxes make Republicans, logic makes libertarians and having children makes conservatives.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
P.J. O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government was one of the books that most influenced my political upbringing. It was a book that explained why American politics was so incredibly messed up, and was relentless in making fun of that fact. Even though it's almost 20 years old, it's still a classic, and well worth reading.

Well, P.J. O'Rourke's at it again. He's written a virtual sequel to Parliament of Whores that shows that in the intervening 18 years American politics has managed to become even more screwed up. And there's no one better suited to lampooning the state of American politics than P.J. O'Rourke.

But what separates this book from the many other books of political satire is that O'Rourke isn't just a bomb-throwing satirist. When, just a few pages in, O'Rourke is name-checking Michael Oakeshott, you know you're reading the work of an author who's done his homework. This book is a satire, to be sure, but it's an intelligent and thoughtful satire. This book manages to mix Oakeshott, Adam Smith, and a schoolgirl's game of "Kill, F@#$, Marry" into a devastating and intelligent critique of American politics. O'Rourke's takes on everything from health care reform to the national debt, and manages to skewer these hot-button political issues without coming across as preachy or pedantic.

O'Rourke is America's best political satirist - because he's America's most well-read and intelligent political satirist. This book, like Parliament of Whores, is destined to be a classic that will still be readable and worthwhile in 20 years -- while other political satires have long since been sent to the remainder bin.

And the Kindle edition is reasonably priced too, which makes this a must-download for this election cycle and long after.
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