Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think

Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think

by David Litt


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Bill Bryson meets Thomas Frank in this deeply insightful, unexpectedly hilarious story of how politicians hijacked American democracy and how we can take it back

The democracy you live in today is different—completely different—from the democracy you were born into. You probably don't realize just how radically your republic has been altered during your lifetime. Yet more than any policy issue, political trend, or even Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the peril America faces today.

What explains the gap between what We, the People want and what our elected leaders do? How can we fix our politics before it's too late? And how can we truly understand the state of our democracy without wanting to crawl under a rock? That's what former Obama speechwriter David Litt set out to answer.

Poking into forgotten corners of history, translating political science into plain English, and traveling the country to meet experts and activists, Litt explains how the world’s greatest experiment in democracy went awry. 

(He also tries to crash a party at Mitch McConnell’s former frat house. It goes poorly.)

The result of Litt's journey is something you might not have thought possible: a page-turner about the political process. You'll meet the Supreme Court justice charged with murder, learn how James Madison's college roommate broke the Senate, encounter a citrus thief who embodies what's wrong with our elections, and join Belle the bill as she tries to become a law (a quest far more harrowing than the one in Schoolhouse Rock!).

Yet despite his clear-eyed assessment of the dangers we face, Litt remains audaciously optimistic. He offers a to-do list of bold yet achievable changes—a blueprint for restoring the balance of power in America before it's too late.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062879363
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/16/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 37,687
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

David Litt is the New York Times best-selling author of Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years. From 2011-2016, David wrote speeches for President Obama, and was described as "the comic muse for the president" for his work on the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Since leaving the White House, he served as the head writer and producer for Funny Or Die's office in Washington, with a focus on improving youth turnout in the 2018 election, and is currently developing a sitcom based on his life in D.C.  He frequently appears on CNN and MSNBC to discuss current events. 

Table of Contents

A Note Regarding Facts (on the theory that they still exist) ix

Introduction: Brother Mitch 1

Part I Who Gets to Vote?

1 The Drawing of Lots: The Non-Voters 17

2 Rick Versus Ricky: The Officially Disenfranchised 29

3 The Sasquatch Hunters: The Unofficially Disenfranchised 57

4 How to Plan a Fyre Festival: The Discouraged 85

Part II Whose Votes Matter?

5 Take a Shit with Irv Litt: The Geography of Gerrymandering 121

6 Ms. Codfish's Classroom: The "Great Compromise" 151

6 ½ An Appendix: The Electoral College 177

7 Old Sheldon: The Campaign Finance System 189

Part III Which Ideas Become a Law?

8 I'm Just a Doomed Bill: The House of Representatives 225

9 The Spartan Retention of the Body's Juices: The Senate 255

10 Possum Kingdom: The Lobbyists 285

11 Slapping Stephen Field: The Judges 317

Epilogue: Unity Place 355

Acknowledgments 367

Suggested Reading 371

Index 375

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