I read this book because so many others referenced it and because I happened to see it on the shelf while browsing at my local library. While interesting, it’s not nearly as stimulating as something on the same subject by Thomas Frank or E. J. Dionne. Nor has it the rabble-rousing hilarity of an Al Franken exposé of Republican Party duplicity. However, it does lay the responsibility for above-board legislating on the leaders of both parties, media pundits and reporters, and the people themselves. Voters have to become more informed and demand solutions to problems, not just throw the bums out every election. The media has to provide that information through constant, courageous fact checking and truthfulness, without some wimpy attempt to be equal-handed where one side is clearly wrong. Party leaders with integrity have to stand up to the baser elements that would subvert our form of representative democracy to self-interest obscured by myths and slogans. “America needs parties that can function constructively in a government system that requires an unusual degree of consensus to act.” (p. 132) The authors show what prevents constructive functionality---big money, hostage taking, disrespect for opponents and institutions---and how we could restore order.
Since its publication in 2012, time has proven the diagnosis offered here to be spot on, and, yes, it IS even worse than you think. Cogent analysis for today.
It's called "good cop, bad cop" with the dems the good coppers and the neocons obviously the bad ones, but either way we end up in the same condition. If I were pathetically ignorant and uneducated I would pay attention to the official status quo messengers from the American Enterprise Institute (originally, and perhaps still is, financed by the du Pont family) and the Brookings Institution, home of Robert Rubin's "Hamilton Project" for the privatization of everything (a perversion of Alexander Hamilton's name since anyone aware of who he was and what he stood for knows this, plus the fact that first Hamilton's son, then Hamilton, were essentially assassinated, wiping out his genetic family). Reframing reality is what these two do and get extremely well compensated for doing. [Much better to read, online, wallstreetreport.org, and their report on monies paid to congress by Wall Street and the weekly columns by financial journalist Pam Martens at www.wallstreetonparade.com .]
Excellent in identifying the causes of our current political dysfunction. Also shows why many proposed cures (term limits, full public financing of elections, third party, constitutional amendment to balance the budget) will do little or no good, and in many cases further harm. Has some good suggestions on how to fix the problem, not all of them realistic. The graphs on party polarization and liberal-conservative voting averages across US history (pp. 45, 57) are very revealing. So is the excellent discussion of the problem with the Senate filibuster rule, individual holds, and the new nullification (pp. 84-101).
A quick, rather depressing summary of the current state of the American political system, focusing heavily on congressional dysfunction.
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