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.
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About the Author
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
Suggested Reading 371