Patriot

Overview

Reflecting the experience and wisdom Gary Hart has accumulated during a lifetime of public service, The Patriot addresses the fundamental challenges to democratic leadership posed by a new century and a new millennium. Written as a handbook of advice to an aspiring younger politician in the tradition of Machiavelli's The Prince, Hart's compact and incisive book identifies the primary challenge facing American leaders today as the restoration of trust between the people and their government. The healthy skepticism...

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Overview

Reflecting the experience and wisdom Gary Hart has accumulated during a lifetime of public service, The Patriot addresses the fundamental challenges to democratic leadership posed by a new century and a new millennium. Written as a handbook of advice to an aspiring younger politician in the tradition of Machiavelli's The Prince, Hart's compact and incisive book identifies the primary challenge facing American leaders today as the restoration of trust between the people and their government. The healthy skepticism Americans have historically held toward politics has been replaced by enervating cynicism, which breeds suspicion, anger, systematic alienation, and ultimately cultural dis-integration. Hart lays the blame for this problem squarely at the feet of today's political leaders, whose mistrust of the people themselves has inspired a like mistrust of the people for their government. Such an atmosphere, Hart argues, is conductive to the flourishing success of new "barbarians" - found today on both left and right - who denigrate our culture and heritage, divide our society, and utilize the political process to bludgeon and destroy their opponents at any price. Speaking the language of revolution and violence, these new barbarians coarsen political discourse and cheapen the moral capital required to maintain our democratic republic - a healthy sense of public spirit and a patriotic pride in our accomplishments and history. The tools of leadership espoused by Machiavelli - mystery, force, and fraud - gave us four centuries of realpolitik. But the conditions of modern governance in a media-saturated society require openness and candor from our leaders, Hart maintains, and in a powerful and persuasive collection of short, interconnected essays, he sets forth new principles for leadership and counsels citizens and politicians alike in the art of democratic renewal. Unlike other politicians whose youthful idealism has been corrupted by actual political experience, Hart remains an optimist. Believing that our politics can still be ennobled by great leadership, he looks to the rising generation to create a political culture that is both idealistic and practical. Hart has witnessed the brutality of politics up close. Yet he has risen above the bitterness of his own reversals to light the way to a new kind of political probity for the next generation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Using the model of Machiavelli's The Prince, Hart, a former Colorado Democratic senator who has long been active in national politics, has constructed a work that offers advice to an unnamed American "patriot"an aspiring younger politicianon ways to revitalize our nation. The Italian political philosopher, who said he wrote about men as they are, not as they should be, was certainly no idealist, so it seems paradoxical that Hart should invite a comparison. For Machiavelli, politics and ethics had nothing to do with each other, while Hart's politics are profoundly ethical. Nonetheless, this book abounds in insights (Nixon was "uncertain of his presence even in his own skin") and contains an impressive analysis of our national malaise. What Hart wants is "liberal nationalism" under a leader who has purity of heart, an expansive spirit and a great soul; he urges that we make a start toward that goal by driving out the "barbarians" who "corrode the spirit of national unity and civility," just as Machiavelli urged Cesare Borgia to drive barbarians out of the Italy of the Renaissance. A thoughtful work, perhaps too idealistic for our time. (June)
Library Journal
In 1513 Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a short booklet entitled The Prince. In it Machiavelli offered what he considered to be practical advice for political leaders. Using Machiavelli's now classic work as a model, Hart, the former senator and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, has written this book of advice for the modern aspiring political leader in the United States. His premise is an intriguing one, but the book is flawed in execution. Hart calls for a "new liberal nationalism'' and for "patrimonial" political leaders who recognize their responsibilities to future generations by working for a "quality-based culture." Unfortunately these concepts and others are inadequately explicated and developed. Thus, Hart's advice is of limited value. His book brings to mind a question posed to Hart by rival Democratic candidate Walter Mondale in 1984: "Where's the beef?" An optional purchase.-Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Kirkus Reviews
Hart, former senator and sometime candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, returns to lecture a paradigmatic (albeit nonexistent) seeker of high national office, in what he clearly believes is the manner of the 16th-century Florentine master Machiavelli, on what must be done to restore trust in America's government and renew a national sense of purpose.

The arguable righteousness of the source apart, Hart's (The Good Fight, 1993, etc.) grandiloquent pronouncements, which range from the self-serving through the self-evident, amount to little more than a mawkish and pretentious rehash of the neoliberal agenda. In 26 short chapters driven by an abiding hatred of the media (notably its putative bent for making and breaking celebrities, which he blames for his own fall from grace), Hart offers superficial guidance on affairs of state. Early on, he cautions the aspiring chief executive to be wary of elite groups who care more for their own selfish interests than for the common good. He urges him to trust the people. Hart then touches without dwelling on the supranational agencies or institutions that could be created not only to spread the creed of democracy throughout the Global Village but also to deal with the manifold problems that have emerged in the wake of the Cold War's end. Considered as well (albeit with appreciably more piety than wit) are such issues as the limits of US influence on newly independent states, equipping the military for the battlefields of the future (on a greatly reduced budget), setting an inspiring example for the electorate, breaking the "degrading mold" of empty campaign promises, and encouraging the domestic populace to make quality, not quantity, its principal focus.

Derivative, utopian precepts from an inch-deep political observer who bears precious little resemblance to the subtle intellectual heavyweight he recklessly chose as a model.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684863764
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1998
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

A letter to the leader 1
1 Modern democracy and restoration of first principles 13
2 Concerning democratic republics and national renewal 19
3 Concerning cultivation of new democracies and achievement of the common good 25
4 What lessons may be learned from the past century concerning centralized political systems 29
5 Concerning the impact of the disintegration of national boundaries on national unity 39
6 Further concerning the disintegration of national boundaries and its dangerous consequences 45
7 Concerning the simultaneous emergence of nationalism in newly independent states 53
8 Concerning limitations on influencing other states 59
9 Further concerning limitations on conditioning the behavior of other states 65
10 Concerning power that is unusable 71
11 How a democracy structures its defenses in the modern age 75
12 Concerning the role of leader as exemplar or as servant 85
13 Concerning that which deserves blame and is praiseworthy in a leader 91
14 Concerning the integrity of leaders 99
15 Concerning courage and cowardice, and whether it is better to be right or popular 105
16 How a leader should conduct himself to gain respect and power 111
17 Defining the obligations of public service and civic duty 119
18 Concerning national renewal, the church, the press and the state 125
19 Concerning a leader's response to organized pressure and particular interests 131
20 Concerning liberality and meanness 137
21 How certain leaders lose power and influence 145
22 Concerning the personal assistants of leaders 151
23 That one should foster the media's higher responsibilities by resisting its excesses 159
24 How sycophants should be avoided 167
25 What fortune can effect in human affairs and how to withstand her 171
26 An exhortation to liberate America from the barbarians 177
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