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Why Americans Hate Politics Paperback – June 1, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reissue edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743265734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743265737
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis R. Jugan on December 26, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I originally purchased and read "Why Americans Hate Politics" shortly after it was published. Recently, I came across the book in my library and read it again.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I like bold books that make bold statements. "Why Americans Hate Politics" opens swinging for the fences, saying accurately that the New Left elected Reagan. And when the book isn't speaking difficult truths, its articulating things clearly that you've probably sensed before. This book traces American Politics from the 60s to 91, outlining the major shifts in ideologies and how they are represented in the political parties. The way it displays these sometimes dramatic shifts could be the books highest value. To see the words "liberal" and "Republican" next to each other feels bizarre, though it shouldn't, and people where described as such not long ago. "Why Americans..." argues essentially there was an insurgency in the Democratic Party in the 60s that split the centrist New Deal consensus. While there were inherently some contradictions in that consensus, the Vietnam War exacerbated the split. At the same time, a conservative coalition emerged, thanks in large part to William Buckley's National Review and the candidacy of Barry Goldwater, that was able to unite two former democratic flanks, namely the libertarian/internationalist neo-conservatives and the traditional/religious populists. The cause of anti-communism solidified that coalition. In turn, the Democratic Party was caught trying to balance the radicals of the sixties and the New Dealers from the past. The two sides have battled it out ever since.

Most importantly and refreshingly, Dionne takes both sides seriously and at their word. For example, he is eloquent in pointing out that and that most religious conservatives don't want to delegitimize other's faiths or force others to their own, they just don't like being mocked as dupes.
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Format: Paperback
"Why Americans Hate Politics" is a brilliant treatment of the major themes of American politics of the last 50 or so years from today's best political journalist. This book showcases exactly what is so good about Dionne's Washington Post columns: insights that are always penetrating, and never anodyne.
Dionne nicely handles a wide spectrum of issues, such as feminism, the resurgence of religion in politics, supply side economics and the divisions in both modern liberalism and conservatism. At the same time, Dionne provides depth, breadth and context that are uncharacteristic of many textbooks that cover the same period. Dionne does not heed the traditional fissures between political history, intellectual history, economic history and civil rights history. Because of this tack, Dionne effectively conveys just how much was going on at any point in American political life.
Finally, I appreciated Dionne's willingness both to mention and cite other works that provide a more thorough treatment of given subjects. Among the many titles I got from reading Dionne's book were Nicol Rae's "The Decline and Fall of Liberal Republicans," Kevin Phillip's "The Politics of Rich and Poor" and John Richard Neuhaus' "The Naked Public Square." Any book that gives me three suggestions of three more "must read" titles gets extra points.
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Format: Paperback
I came across this book about a year ago, if that, at my local public library. Dionne's piercing analysis opened my eyes to the answer, or beginnings of an answer, to a question that had been so residual in my mind.

Looking at the publication date, I was taken aback. The book is so relevant, and it was originally introduced to the market in 1992.

But that's a footnote. Dionne's thesis is simple, yet brilliantly incisive: American political "apathy" is only apparent; the hostility among most people toward 'politics' and, especially, 'politicians' can be explained, he writes, toward the "false choices" provided by our ineffective two-party system.

So, instead of energy and solidarity, we are seeing (and have been seeing for many years, as Dionne indicates) paralysis, stagnation and a 'polarized' climate that denies a third way.

Read it.
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