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List of illustrations
Chapter 1: Elements of American democracy
Chapter 2: The presidency
Chapter 3: Congress and its bicameralism
Chapter 4: The legislative-executive process
Chapter 5: The Supreme Court
Chapter 6: Bureaucracy
Chapter 7: Public opinion
Chapter 8: Political parties and democratic choices
Chapter 9: The partisan revival
Chapter 10: Political economy
Posted May 19, 2013
Politics is, quite frankly, one of my passions. Aside from my own political leanings, values and interests, I have an overarching interest in the entirety of the political process in its own right. I always try to read well-informed and as far as possible objective accounts of the “big picture” of what makes any particular political system tick and what makes it special and idiosyncratic. My expectations of this very short introduction to the American politics were along those lines, unfortunately this book falls far short of my expectations.
Even though the author aims to give an overarching introduction to the American politics as a whole, the book reads more like a hodgepodge of various topics and themes in American politics. Some are reasonably well informative (such as the topic on the elections), while others left me scratching my head. The chapter on the office of presidency was almost entirely devoted to the history of 20th century presidential public addresses, while the chapter on Senate spent inordinate amount of space on Filibuster. These are all interesting topics to be sure, but in my mind they are far from representative of what the most important characteristics of those two political institutions are. In an extremely short introduction as this one, such a choice of topics is inexcusable.
As bad as the choice and treatment of topics are, those flaws pail in comparison with my biggest issue with this book: its unapologetic and in-your-face left-wing bias. Every single Republican political issue has been thoroughly criticized, oftentimes beyond what is objectively warranted, while the Democratic decisions are either not remarked upon or praised. The virtues and the flaws of the entirety of the US political system are judged along the lines of the left-wing issues. The concluding chapter in its entirety is dedicated to “income inequality” and its effects on democracy.
Let’s present the extent of the bias of this book in terms of its illustrations. Out of ten pictures in the book four are of Democratic politicians (Woodrow Wilson, Nancy Pelosi, Elena Kagan and Allen Ellender), three relate to liberal causes (minority voters, union protesters, and Occupy Wall Street protester), two are more or less neutral (a department of agriculture worker and George Gallup), and only one has anything to do with Republicans – an old 1874 cartoon of the GOP elephant. I can’t think of a more unbalanced set of illustrations for a book of this kind.
This book should be the exhibit A in the case against the ideological indoctrination of the American college professors. They are clearly unable to see their own biases, and continue the fiction of presenting themselves as impartial intellectuals. Generations of American college students have been fed a steady diet of books of this type. Fortunately, more and more of them are starting to learn about the real nature of the American political process from the alternative media and educational resources.
Posted May 31, 2014
No text was provided for this review.