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Why Americans Hate Politics Paperback – June 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
This National Book Award nominee is a valuable analysis of the major ideological currents in American politics over the last 30 years.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Washington Post journalist Dionne argues that American liberal and conservative ideologies since the 1960s have presented the public with false choices, preventing the framing of issues in ways that are conducive to their resolution. He calls for a "new political center" that incorporates some ideas of both the political left and right. He also demands recognition of the importance of the principle of "republicanism," which he defines as including an acceptance of a largely market economy and a healthy, vital public sphere. Whether one accepts Dionne's premise that Americans hate politics or his prescription for curing that condition, the book is a valuable analysis of the major ideological currents in American politics over the last 30 years. Both informed lay readers and academics with an interest in political ideologies will find it stimulating. Recommended for public and university libraries.
- Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The title of the book is a question but the answer is not explicitly given until the end. For the first twelve chapters the author, E.J. Dionne Jr., gives us an American political history lesson. He begins with the late 50's until the late 80's while briefly touching upon the 30's and the era of the New Deal. The book reads like a text book at times but offers very consumable and interesting facts. After the first twelve chapters I thought I understood what the answer to the question was but he offered a slightly different answer.
After reading the steps and missteps of both parties over the years I came to the conclusion that Americans hate politics because every group, whether large or small, has had the feeling of being left out of the discussion at one time or another. This seemed to me the clear conclusion he was drawing after 300 pages of Liberal and Conservative maneuvering, but he had a slightly different more elaborate answer. One passage that summarized the American sentiment came in chapter 12:
"This, then, is the legacy of the last thirty years: a polarized politics that highlights symbolic issues, short-circuits genuine political debate, gives discontent few real outlets, allows money a paramount role in the electoral process, and leaves the country alarmed over whether it can maintain its standard of living."
All that is true and E.J. cites many examples to elucidate that answer. This is a book you'll have to hunker down to read because it's not a real page turner. There is a lot to digest and a lot of politics to familiarize yourself with (such as populists, libertarians, isolationists, etc.) that have occurred from the New Deal era till the presidency of George Bush Sr. It's all worth it to be at least a little bit more in tuned and apprised of the politics of the country you reside in.
Few modern-day books and in depth analyses manage to weather the test of time. Mr. Dionne's thesis, to his credit, is further affirmed in its accuracy just four days short of 2003. This achievement is only diminished by the frustration of knowing that we've sunken much deeper into this morass of "ideological polarization" vis a vis liberalism and conservatism as it affects today's political climate in the U.S.
Mr. Dionne could hardly have predicted the proliferation of cable networks with their steady diet of disciples from both sides pummeling the viewer 24 hours a day. Neither could he have imagined the depths to which politicos, think tanks, and special interest groups would plunge as this "polarization" continues to feed upon itself some 12 years later.
"Why Americans Hate Politics" should be on every required reading list in our colleges and universities as well as among engaged and concerned citizens in the United States - especially given current events.
Most recent customer reviews
Yet the author goes overboard with the political jargon that I gave up...Read more