The Great Game of Politics: Why We Elect, Whom We Elect

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From our nation's inception there has been a constant dynamic of tension between those political philosophies that we have labeled the left and the right, despite the fact that the vast majority of American voters really fall into the category of moderates. During the early years, the shifts between the two were dramatic and frequent: the Federalists on one side, the Jeffersonians on the other, as the young democracy came to grips with the two opposing political forces that were to mold the new nation. On one ...

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The Great Game of Politics: Why We Elect, Whom We Elect

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Overview

From our nation's inception there has been a constant dynamic of tension between those political philosophies that we have labeled the left and the right, despite the fact that the vast majority of American voters really fall into the category of moderates. During the early years, the shifts between the two were dramatic and frequent: the Federalists on one side, the Jeffersonians on the other, as the young democracy came to grips with the two opposing political forces that were to mold the new nation. On one hand we have those concerned with business, conservatism, and the development of capital and wealth. They want the government to provide security that will protect the nation's interest while allowing free-market forces to increase prosperity. On the other hand we have the left, concerned with personal rights, equality, and the fostering of prosperity for all citizens through an active and involved federal government.

By explicating the Presidency from George Washington to George W. Bush,

The Great Game of Politics examines the American Presidency as a cyclic reflection of the concerns of the electorate. It presents the excitation of the ideologies of our two major parties in a constant left-right swing where the will of the people sets the pendulum in motion and determines the direction the country will take for another four years. From the early years, where the tension that forged the nation initially required numerous shifts to establish an acceptable political equilibrium, to the revered legacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, whose presidencies not only initiated major political shifts, but also instituted fundamental changes in the apparatus of government that would prove to be integral to the administrations that followed them, both Democratic and Republican.

They seized the reins of government and made a lasting mark. Indeed the truly great presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Reagan—shaped the course of history for our nation and in doing so proved themselves to be masters of The Great Game of Politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It is unquestionably one of the most original and interesting books I’ve ever read on the American presidency – and I have read a great deal in this field”

-Thomas Fleming, Author of THE ILLUSION OF VICTORY, AMERICA IN WORLD WAR II on Great Game of Politics

Thomas Fleming author of The Illusion of Victory
"It is unquestionably one of the most original and interesting books I've ever read on the American presidency...."
Publishers Weekly
In Stoken's view, American history is not a "patternless swirl of events," but rather follows a very simple pattern: a continual shifting back and forth between liberal and conservative philosophies in nine eras, or paradigms, whose agendas were set by the nine presidents Stoken considers to have been great (the inclusion of Washington and Lincoln won't surprise anyone; that of Coolidge might). For instance, the New Deal/Great Society era initiated by Franklin Roosevelt was followed by the current conservative era of the New Economy, whose agenda was set by Ronald Reagan. Beginning with the battle between Alexander Hamilton's Federalists and Thomas Jefferson's democrats, Stoken sees a political battle between those who want to limit government and provide wealth (conservatives) and those who want to use government in order to secure equality and individual rights (liberals). It's a creative approach that allows for framing American history in nice, neat windows-perhaps a bit too neat. These paradigms are based on the current Republican and Democratic parties, and as Stoken himself admits, they don't always fit the past so well. Serious students of the American presidency will find Stoken's thinking a bit simplistic as well as present-minded. And Stoken, an investor who has written several investment books (The Great Cycle; Strategic Investment Timing), writes more like a motivational speaker - he's prone to exclamation points - than a historian. But less-schooled readers may find some help in thinking about the approaching 2004 election. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Who will win the 2004 presidential election and why? Stoken, an investment manager and author of two books on investment, believes he knows. His unique theory explains the history of presidential elections (viz. a predictable swing by the electorate from a liberal party to a conservative one and back again), and a means of evaluating Presidents and classifying them into nine "paradigms." Unfortunately, the author's simplistic characterization of the ideologies of America's two main parties lacks objectivity, his interpretation of history is problematic, and his analyses of presidential politics seriously flawed. A significant problem is the limited breadth of his knowledge and research; a review of his sources reveals mostly biographies and general histories of the United States. Nowhere referenced are major analytical works such as Sidney Milkis and Marc Landy's Presidential Greatness, Stephen Skowronek's The Politics Presidents Make, or James David Barber's The Pulse of Politics. These books are superior because they employ rigorous, empirical, social science methods to develop and test evidence in support of their conclusions. Anyone seeking to understand presidential elections or the presidency is better served reading any of these books.-Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Amateurish exercise in political history, turning on half-correct assumptions and half-formed arguments. By Chicago-based investment guru and debut author Stoken's account, Americans have fallen into two big camps throughout the nation's history: One wants small government, one wants a big state; one wants to save, another wants to spend; one favors business, the other disdains the very thought of free commerce. The nation has survived as long as it has, Stoken writes, because of "its ability to steer from one side of the political spectrum to other [sic]-from left to right-and back again." Stoken conceives of politics as a kind of game: "No other game, from basketball to baseball, from charades to scrabble, rivals in politics importance [sic]. Not the 'money' game! Not the 'sex' game! Nor even the 'love' game!" One presumes that the back-and-forth quality of American politics is Wimbledon to the rest of the world's badminton, so well do we play it. But whatever the case, Stoken reduces the nation's fraught, tangled, often bloody political history to a series of flash-card lessons: "The children of the upper middle class led a cultural insurgency. . . . They flocked to places like Woodstock to participate in love-soaked, dope-hazed happenings"; "[a]ccording to Reagan, the government was taking away too much decision-making power from its citizens. The Reaganites deliberately set out . . . to unleash the power of competition so as to lift the nation's economy out of its stagflation rut of the 1970s. And it worked!" And so on. There's nothing much new here, and nothing much worth remembering; readers would do better to consult the far more powerful work of Kevin Phillips and David HackettFisher, argued with a welcome dearth of exclamation marks. A PowerPoint presentation to Rotarians, maybe. A book, no.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765311818
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 10/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Dick Stoken graduated in 1958 from the University of Chicago Business School with an M.B.A. and is a member of both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is the author of Cycles (1978) and Strategic Investment Timing (1984). Both books were named best investment book of the year by the Stock Traders Almanac for the year they were published. His third and most recent book, The Great Cycle, was published in 1993. Stoken lives in Illinois and is a lifelong student of "the Great Game of Politics."

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Table of Contents

Introduction 13
I Political Paradigms 21
II The Federalists 41
III The Democrats: The Age of Jefferson and Jackson 60
IV The Great Transition 91
V The Progressives 125
VI The Roaring Twenties: A New Era 143
VII The New Deal - Great Society 156
VIII The Modern Era: The New Economy 190
IX Dueling Parties 212
X The Nine Political Paradigms 234
XI Political Stalemate and the Role of Third Parties 263
XII The Role of Power 279
XIII 9/11 and Stirrings of a New World Order 312
XIV The "Rating the Presidents" Game 322
XV Conclusion: "Catching On" 333
Bibliography 353
Index 357
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    The Great Game of Politics

    This is a must read for all Americans of voting age!

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