Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics

Overview

Everyone knows that Washington is completely out of touch with the rest of the country. Now Kevin Phillips, whose bestselling books have prophesied the major watersheds of American party politics, tells us why. Washington - mired in bureaucracy, captured by the money power of Wall Street, and dominated by 90,000 lobbyists, 60,000 lawyers, and the largest concentration of special interests the world has ever seen - has become the albatross that Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers feared: a swollen ...
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Overview

Everyone knows that Washington is completely out of touch with the rest of the country. Now Kevin Phillips, whose bestselling books have prophesied the major watersheds of American party politics, tells us why. Washington - mired in bureaucracy, captured by the money power of Wall Street, and dominated by 90,000 lobbyists, 60,000 lawyers, and the largest concentration of special interests the world has ever seen - has become the albatross that Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers feared: a swollen capital city feeding off the country it should be governing. Throughout most of our history, the genius of American politics was that ballot revolutions every generation swept out failed establishments and created new ones. Now that can no longer happen. Feared and even hated by a majority of the citizenry, "Permanent Washington" has dug in. Using history as a chilling warning, Kevin Phillips parallels the present atrophy to that of formerly mighty and arrogant capitals like Rome, Madrid, andAmsterdam.,Unchecked, Washington will - like other great powers before it - lead the country to its inevitable decline and fall. To work again, Washington must be purged and revitalized. In his unique blueprint for a political upheaval, Kevin Phillips puts Washington on notice by sounding a cry for immediate action, offering us a wide variety of remedies - some quasi-revolutionary, others more moderate, but all sure to be controversial.

America's premiere political analyst, whose The Politcs of Rich and Poor and Boiling Point crystallized our growing political frustration, now outlines the drastic measures necessary to save our country from Washington's special interests.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Decrying the influence of political and financial elites, veteran pundit Phillips ( The Emerging Republican Majority ) here attempts to channel the dissatisfactions of the general populace, as evinced on radio talk shows, into national reform. ``Capitals rot first,'' he declares, drawing briefly on such historical analogues as Hapsburg Spain and 18th-century Holland to buttress his argument that the current centers of American power, Washington and Wall Street, have sunk into decadence. Echoing recent critiques like Jonathan Rauch's Demo sclerosis , he highlights a bipartisan support for the government status quo. While Phillips wisely focuses on governmental, not social reform, his generalization that conservatives blame cultural weakness while liberals underscore economic decline ignores the influence of more nuanced thinkers like Cornel West. Among Phillips's better suggestions: move away from the two-party system by allowing referenda and considering proportional representation; raise taxes on the ``really rich.'' Some problems, like the mercenary culture of lobbyists, may be less amenable to remedy by policy than by moral suasion, but Phillips sets an agenda for debate. Author tour. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Phillips's first book, The Emerging Republican Majority (LJ 1015/69), was praised as the political bible of the Nixon era. He became a Republican pariah after The Politics of Rich and Poor (LJ 5/15/90) was hailed by the Democrats in the 1992 presidential campaign. That work was the first in a trilogy on the plight of modern America. The second work, Boiling Point (LJ 3/15/93), documented the frustration of the middle class. Arrogant Capital offers solutions to "the beltway mentality" in Washington, D.C., and the greed of Wall Street. Abandoning hope of political reform through our two-party system, Phillips now favors direct democracy to prevent America's decline. Though some of his populist proposals are extreme, they deserve debate. His historical grasp of patterns among former world powers (e.g., Spain, Holland, Britain) add substance to his fears. Our modern Thomas Paine has written another readable volume that deserves widespread attention. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/94.]-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316706025
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 10/1/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition
Acknowledgments
1 Washington and the Late-Twentieth-Century Failure of American Politics 3
2 Imperial Washington: The Power and the Glory - And the Betrayal of the Grass Roots 27
3 The Crisis No One Can Discuss: U.S. Economic and Cultural Decline - And What It Means 69
4 The Financialization of America: Electronic Speculation and Washington's Loss of Control over the "Real Economy" 95
5 The Principal Weaknesses of American Politics and Government 139
6 The Fading of Anglo-American Institutions and World Supremacy 173
7 The 1990s: Converging Revolutionary Traditions and Post-Cold War Jitters 205
8 Renewing America for the Twenty-first Century: The Blueprint for a Political Revolution 227
Notes and Sources 271
Index 279
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