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Indispensable Enemies: The Politics of Misrule in America Paperback – January 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Franklin Square Press; 1st edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879957132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879957138
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For me, the major impression left by this book was it's massive originality. Every page was the equivalent of opening your lunchbox in expectation of the usual bologna sandwich, and finding instead a skyscraper, the Hope diamond, or Elvis' twitching torso. Karp looks at the theories of American politics and attempts to overturn every accepted explanation, always suggesting complex, subtle and powerful alternatives. Whether he succeeds or not you can judge for yourself, but he somehow manages to be always unique on ground previously trodden by so many feet. Yet, he isn't merely a contrarian. His intricate theory retains remarkable consistensy throughout this book and his other three books on politics.
The previous reviewer sums up one of the books main ideas very well. Another argument of the book is that power in America is almost totally monopolized by the two parties -- contrary to most opinion today which seeks to blame anyone and everyone for our problems except the most obvious suspects, the politicians who pass laws and frustrate reform. Since so many pundits blame either the "liberal media elite" or monopolistic corporations for our woes, Karp details the ways in which both groups are under the complete domination of the two parties (his analysis of the media is part of a separate book _Buried Alive_). As Karp points out, the idea isn't new. Madison, Jefferson, Washington, et. al. shouted until they were hoarse about the necessity of zealously watching politicians and rulers. They had little if any concern about journalists, manufacturers and bankers, except insofar as they might become willing tools for would-be despots and oligarchs. But no one except Karp has thoroughly explored the implications of this founding belief in the modern political context.
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Format: Hardcover
I learned more from this book then I did in all the classes I was required to obtain my political science degree. The main premise of the book is that the Republican and Democratic party leaders collude to keep power, often by not contesting elections that could easily be won with any money or effort expended. A quick example from 25 years after the book's publication should suffice to verify Karp's thesis. In the state of Florida in 1998, half of the congressional seats were not even contested (several other "contests" simply have write-in candidates with zero chance of winning). This was despite the fact that both parties knew winning an extra seat or two might well determine who controlled the next Congress. Unfortunately, this fact is overlooked by not only the public, but all of the so-called experts on TV. Right now, the public perception still is that the parties fight like dogs to win elections at all possible costs. Karp sees what the pundits of today can't: the goal of party leaders is to maintain control of their organizations,not to win elections. One quote from former Democratic speaker Sam Rayburn demonstrates this principle;when faced with a coming landslide for his party and a gain of many seats for his party,he ruefully says :"I'd just as soon not have that many Democrats, they'll be difficult to control." This is the shocking but real story of how politics in America really works. A truly indispensable work.

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Format: Paperback
I think this book is one of the best readers in American political science I have ever come across. What is stunning about this book is that it is the only one I have ever encountered that attempts to address that rather mysterious phrase we so often hear in modern politics, "government gone wild," or "government run rampant," or "out of control spending." After hearing such nonsense for years I almost believed it and then I read this book. Karp's retort is simply that things happen in government because those whose serve in government make them happen. There is no "holy ghost" running the show and increasing domestic or defense spending while members of Congress or the Executive are home sleeping. Karp seeks to remind the public that everything that is happening is because those in power will it to happen.

Karp has a thesis that is central to this work as well as his wonderful books Liberty Under Siege and The Politics of War and that is that those who govern do their best to make it appear as if forces beyond their control are always forcing them to act. This is not so, says Karp and he shows you why. Did Woodrow Wilson have to get us into war? Did the Germans attack us without provocation? Did FDR have to attempt (so blatantly and unconstitutionally) to pack the Court with "Activists" to get his New Deal made into law? Did LBJ really have no choice at Tonkin? Did JFK have to cave in to public funding for parochial schools? Why did the Democratic leadership always have so many of its own party legions defecting to the Republican cause when it had tremendous majorities in the House and Senate? The answers to these questions and more are in his books.
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Format: Paperback
I learned more from this book then I did in all the classes I was required to obtain my political science degree. The main premise of the book is that the Republican and Democratic party leaders collude to keep power, often by not contesting elections that could easily be won with any money or effort expended. A quick example from today,25 years after the book was published: in my home state of Florida, half the congressional seats this year will not even be contested (several other "contests" simply have write-in candidates with zero chance of winning). Yet, the public perception is that the parties fight like dogs to win elections at all possible costs. Karp sees what pundits today can't: the goal of party leaders is to maintain control of their organizations,not to win elections. One quote from former Democratic speaker Sam Rayburn demonstrates this principle;when faced with a coming landslide for his party and a gain of many seats for his party,he ruefully says :"I'd just as soon not have that many Democrats, they'll be difficult to control." This is the shocking but real story of how politics in America really works.
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