The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

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Overview

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy ...

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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

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Overview

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas:

True self interest is mutual interest. (Society, it turns out, is an ecosystem that is healthiest when we take care of the whole.)

Society becomes how we behave. (The model of citizenship depends on contagious behavior, hence positive behavior begets positive behavior.)

We’re all better off when we’re all better off. (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Adjust the definition of wealth to society creating solutions for all.)

Government should be about the big what and the little how. (Government should establish the ideas and the goals, and then let the people find the solutions of how to make it happen.)

Freedom is responsibility. (True freedom is not about living some variant of libertarianism but rather an active cooperation a part of a big whole society; freedom costs a little freedom.)

The Gardens of Democracy is an optimistic, provocative, and timely summons to improve our role as citizens in a democratic society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Liu and Hanauer have proposed a powerful new way to think about how society works and there is a lot here for conservatives to work with and debate." --Noah Kristula-Green, The Daily Beast

The Gardens of Democracy provides a refreshing new conceptual approach to understanding our economic and political situation, and it will help us move past the fossilized ideas in today’s public debates.”--Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order

“Society is a garden. Liu and Hanauer’s simple metaphor makes the complexities and limits of social policy emerge before your eyes. Statists can’t see the interconnections of organic systems. Free marketers can’t see that a garden needs some tending. If you’re looking for a way forward out of America’s dangerous gridlock, read this wonderful book.”--Jonathan Haidt, Professor of psychology, University of Virginia and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

“Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer are progressives who always think outside the box, and that’s why everyone should pay attention to them. The Gardens of Democracy shakes up our stale debate over government’s role in a dynamic society, and in a thoughtful, creative and inventive way. Everyone will find something to disagree with here, and that’s the point: getting us out of our comfort zones is an immensely useful democratic undertaking.”--E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics

"I just read a remarkable book by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. It is The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government.  I highly recommend it as a big gust of fresh air to clear out the dense, stale, gases we have all been breathing when it comes to how we talk about politics and citizenship. It is time to break out of the prison of left/right thinking that has made politics so mean spirited in recent years... There is something in this new metaphor for both the left and the right."--Ray Smock, Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies

"Even if you don't agree with everything the authors propose, you will find 'The Gardens of Democracy' to be spirited and thought provoking."--The Bellingham Herald

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570618239
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 139,374
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 4.86 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Liu

Eric Liu, twenty-nine, has been a speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and a commentator for MSNBC. A regular contributor to Slate,
he has also written for The Washington
Post Magazine and USA Weekend. After founding The Next Progressive, an acclaimed journal of opinion, he edited the anthology Next:
Young American Writers on the New Generation. He is a graduate of Yale College and is now enrolled at Harvard Law School.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 14, 2011

    Chauncey Gardner in "Being There" needed Eric and Nick as his speech writers!

    I read it in one night! That's an accomplishment for me. I subscribe to much of this thinking & seeing it actually on paper and organized was terrific and made me feel better about my convictions. It will be a tough sale to right wing Baby Boomers but it's written in a way that even they might give it a second thought. Young People these days subscribe more and more to this type of thinking and the education system is integrating it more and more into their curriculums thank goodness. Now if you can just incorporate the thinking of Gene Roddenberry I'd be happy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    This book is completely one sided. It has nothing to do with dem

    This book is completely one sided. It has nothing to do with democracy. It's about Socialism and Communism. It talks about 
    "redistribution of wealth", how there should be "more unions", and how everyone should be "required to vote". 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2012

    Quick read with a powerful message

    Maybe there is hope for the future if more people would model the suggested behavior.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    I am reading Gardens of Democracy

    Although I haven't finished reading the book as yet, I am reallly enjoying it. Thought-provoking and written in a language I can understand easilly. If the book holds up until I finished, I am going to recommend it to my 3 daughters, among others.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    On Target

    A refreshing new look that moves beyond the traditional arguments that have created the current political impass.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    This is a great book.

    This a book based on common sense. Something lost in our modern political system.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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