The War Against Public Life: Why Americans Hate Politics

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All over the United States, Americans are deserting the political process. Why? In this national bestseller, one of our shrewdest political observers traces thirty years of volatile political history and finds that on point after point, liberals and conservatives are framing issues as a series of "false choices," making it impossible for politicians to solve problems, and alienating voters in the process. Now with a new afterword discussing the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and the 1992 presidential ...
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Overview

All over the United States, Americans are deserting the political process. Why? In this national bestseller, one of our shrewdest political observers traces thirty years of volatile political history and finds that on point after point, liberals and conservatives are framing issues as a series of "false choices," making it impossible for politicians to solve problems, and alienating voters in the process. Now with a new afterword discussing the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings and the 1992 presidential election, Dionne explores what has gone wrong with the American system and offers a back-to-basics approach to politics designed to respond to the anger of America's restive majority.

One of the nation's shrewdest political observers traces 30 years of volatile political history, explores what has gone wrong with American politics, and offers a bipartisan look toward a more productive future. This acclaimed national bestseller won the 1991 Los Angeles Times Book Award. "A gripping, page-by-page analysis of what ails us."--National Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This National Book Award nominee is a valuable analysis of the major ideological currents in American politics over the last 30 years. (May)
Library Journal
Washington Post journalist Dionne argues that American liberal and conservative ideologies since the 1960s have presented the public with false choices, preventing the framing of issues in ways that are conducive to their resolution. He calls for a ``new political center'' that incorporates some ideas of both the political left and right. He also demands recognition of the importance of the principle of ``republicanism,'' which he defines as including an acceptance of a largely market economy and a healthy, vital public sphere. Whether one accepts Dionne's premise that Americans hate politics or his prescription for curing that condition, the book is a valuable analysis of the major ideological currents in American politics over the last 30 years. Both informed lay readers and academics with an interest in political ideologies will find it stimulating. Recommended for public and university libraries.-- Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671682552
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/15/1991
  • Pages: 432

Meet the Author

E. J. Dionne, Jr., is a bestselling author, a syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Washington Post and nearly a hundred other newspapers, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a professor at Georgetown University. His Why Americans Hate Politics won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a nominee for the National Book Award. He is a regular commentator on National Public Radio and on other radio and television programs. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Mary Boyle, and their three children.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Living in the Past: How Liberals and Conservatives Are Failing America 9
Pt. 1 The Failures of Liberalism 29
1 Freedom Now: The New Left and the Assault on Liberalism 31
2 The Virtues of Virtue: The Neoconservative Revolt 55
3 Not Black and White: Race, "Values," and Willie Horton 77
4 Family Politics: Feminism and Its Enemies 98
5 The Lost Opportunity: Jimmy Carter and the Not-So-Vital Center 116
Pt. 2 The Conservative Impasse 145
6 Ideas Have Consequences: Conservatism's Contradictory Origins 147
7 Moderation Is No Virtue: The Troubled Life of "Modern Republicanism" 170
8 Hell Hath No Fury: The Religious Right and the New Republican Party 209
9 The Demand for Supply Side: Conservative Politics, New Deal Optimism 242
10 Politics Without Government: The Rebirth of Libertarianism 259
11 Balancing Acts: Reagan, Bush, and the Conservative Impasse 283
12 One Nation, Divisible: The 1988 Campaign and the Logic of False Choices 300
Pt. 3 Curing the Mischiefs of Ideology 327
13 The Politics of the Restive Majority: Healing Public Life in the Nineties 329
Afterword to the Touchstone Edition: Beyond False Choices: The Revolt of the Voters 356
Notes 374
Acknowledgments 420
Index 425
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