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You Can't Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America

Overview

"This book lays bare the malfunctions of our democracy and the solutions in a superb literary style and a convincing manner." George McGovern, Democratic candidate for President, 1972

It seems like an historic election: A woman almost won the nomination to run for President of the United states—losing to an African-American, who will run against the oldest candidate ever! It’s the realization of one of the core beliefs of our democracy: Anyone can be president.

Or is it? What if...

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Overview

"This book lays bare the malfunctions of our democracy and the solutions in a superb literary style and a convincing manner." George McGovern, Democratic candidate for President, 1972

It seems like an historic election: A woman almost won the nomination to run for President of the United states—losing to an African-American, who will run against the oldest candidate ever! It’s the realization of one of the core beliefs of our democracy: Anyone can be president.

Or is it? What if a close analysis showed that the candidates were, for the most part, getting their financing from the same corporations and lobbyists … that they all went to the same schools … that their votes were remarkably similarly on most issues …?

In a rollicking piece of journalism based on years of reporting, John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, talks to truly independent candidates—including the first ever post-election interview of Joe Lieberman nemesis Ned Lamont—about what they were up against. He gives the most detailed breakdown yet of campaign financing sources. He analyzes the parameters of the two party system, what the Constitution has to say about that, and how the media treats independent politicians. And he also discusses how all this influences issues of local democracy.

It’s an edgy, fascinating look at the system that’s a must-read to understand whether the most historic election in American history is really going to be about change … or not.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Alexis de Tocqueville is a guiding spirit for this wide-ranging text, which advances a familiar argument: that moneyed and privileged interests, rather than the needs and opinions of ordinary citizens, dominate contemporary American politics. MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper's magazine, begins by lamenting the "lack of basic comprehension of the Constitution" and American government on the part of the political and media elite. From there, he proceeds thematically, considering the influence of the Republican and Democratic parties, the effects of social class and education, among other topics. Detours into local politics, including an extended account of a dispute over the construction of a Target store in Portsmouth, R.I., feel digressive, as do the author's occasional forays into history, in which he takes aim at targets on both sides of the political aisle from Joseph McCarthy to Woodrow Wilson and James Polk. MacArthur's book will likely inspire like-minded political progressives, despite his harsh criticism of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but its crossover appeal may be limited. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933633602
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

JOHN R. MACARTHUR is the president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine. An award-winning journalist, he has previously written for The New York Times, United Press International, The Chicago Sun-Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of the acclaimed books The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy, and Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

Problem #1: The Small Matter of Reading the Constitution 27

Problem #2: Parties You're Not Invited to 41

Problem #3: It's Really Expensive, Or, You Don't Have $300 Million, Do You? 61

Problem #4: We Only Promote from Within 79

Problem #5: You're Tied Up at Home: A Story from Portsmouth, Rhode Island 103

Problem #6: You're Tied Up in the City: Lessons from Chicago 125

Problem #7: Your Horatio Alger Syndrome 139

Problem #8: "Where'd You Go to School Again?" 155

Problem #9: You Don't Look Good On TV... The Tragedy Of Consumer Choice 169

Problem #10: You Don't Have That Killer Instinct 189

Problem #11: I Rest My Case: The 2006 Election 215

Epilogue 245

Acknowledgements 261

Index 264

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