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It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism Paperback – September 3, 2013
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''The phrase 'essential reading' does not begin to get at the importance of this passionate warning by two of our very best political scientists about our nation's capacity to govern itself. Mann and Ornstein sweep aside the timid conventional wisdom to inform Americans that our problems are even worse than we think they are. It is absolutely vital that this book's findings and message enter the consciousness and consciences of journalists, politicians, and citizens who care about the future of our republic.'' --E. J. Dionne, National Book Award nominee
''This is an exceptionally important and cogent analysis of America's breakdown in self-governance. It is an urgent warning of the consequences of our intolerant politics and governing paralysis and ways to fix it.'' --Chuck Hagel, former US senator and distinguished professor, Georgetown University
''One doesn't have to agree with every one of Mann and Ornstein's proposals to appreciate the extraordinary contribution to improving governance that they make in this important book. We could do no better than to use it as a compelling blueprint for urgently needed reform. If every member of Congress would read just one book on the subject, my wish is that it would be this one.'' --Tom Daschle, former Senate majority leader
''More than any time in my lifetime, the United States is challenged at home and so is our place in the world. When Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein get together to sound a loud alarm about the way our political system is being torn apart, it's time to listen -- and listen hard. Then the tough part -- how do we restore some sense of common purpose, of working together to make our government work? Mann and Ornstein set out ways to rebuild political bridges, beginning right now. We'd better get to work.'' --Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
THOMAS E. MANN is the W. Averell Harriman Chair and senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He is a former executive director of the American Political Science Association. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.
NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also the author of a weekly column for Roll Call called ''Congress Inside Out.''He lives in Washington, DC. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top customer reviews
While the book's authors are both knowledgable and credible (long-time) observers of the Washington phenomenon, they skim (what I consider) the most interesting details of the political machine and jump ahead to their final conclusions and analysis, which makes reading the book much like seeing only Act 3 of a play.
This isn't to say I discount their findings. It's clear their arguments are based upon both anecdotal observations and a rigorous (if not scientific) study of the "politics of opposition." But the narrative decisions the authors made regarding how to tell the story left me wanting to better understand how Congress transformed from a legislative body into an obstructionist body. Moreover, I suspect their findings will fall flat on those who have right-leaning tendencies because much of their evidence is left behind the narrative.
Still, it's contribution to the larger story of Congressional dysfunction can't be undersold. Taken together with books such as Lawrence Lessig's Republic, Lost (which the authors argue is a well-written critique but ultimately unrealistic in its goal), one can begin to understand the deep, underlying forces that have disrupted traditional governance -- at least on a federal level -- in the United States.
It's Even Worse That It Looks reads more like a book you'd pick up after spending time with Lessig's work than one you'd read to start trying to understand politics in modern America.
Whether you are American or not--conservative or liberal--Democrat or Republican--it is crucial that you read this book.
I cannot review this book with Justice here. Please read my review on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18949291-it-s-even-worse-than-it-looks#
The authors' procedural recommendations for reform in Chapter 6 might seem like small change, but, collectively, they could make a difference. In Chapter 7, however, the authors seem unwilling to blame the public for the current dilemma and they seem too willing to believe that people can be scolded into taking responsible actions.
Overall, a courageous book. The authors make arguments that are not very fashionable in the institutions in which they are employed.