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Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change

Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change

by Eitan Hersh


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A groundbreaking analysis of political hobbyism—treating politics like a spectator sport—and an urgent and timely call to arms for the many well-meaning, well-informed citizens who follow political news, but do not take political action.

Do you consider yourself politically engaged? Probably, yes! But are you, really? The uncomfortable truth is that most of us have good intentions. We vote (sometimes) and occasionally sign a petition or attend a rally. But we mainly “engage” by consuming politics as if it’s entertainment or a hobby. We obsessively follow the news and complain about the opposition to our friends or spouse. We tweet and post and share. The hours we spend on politics are used mainly as pastime.

Instead, political scientist and data analyst Eitan Hersh offers convincing evidence that we should be spending the same number of hours building political organizations, implementing a long-term vision for our local communities, and getting to know our neighbors, whose votes will be needed for solving hard problems. We could be accumulating power so that when there are opportunities to make a difference—to lobby, to advocate, to mobilize—we will be ready. Aided by cutting-edge social science as well as remarkable stories of ordinary citizens who got off their couches and took political power seriously, this book shows us how to channel our energy away from political hobbyism and toward empowering our values.

In an age of political turmoil and as the 2020 election looms, Politics Is for Power is an inspiring, vital read that will make you hopeful for America’s democratic future.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982116798
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 06/30/2020
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 89,169
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Eitan Hersh received a PhD from Harvard University in 2011. He served for six years on the faculty of Yale University as assistant professor of political science and resident fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies before becoming a tenured associate professor of political science at Tufts University. His peer-reviewed articles have been published in the major political science journals. Hersh is the author of Hacking the Electorate and Politics Is for Power.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I

1 Refresh the Feed 15

2 Staten Island, Staten Island, Take Me In 20

3 Rooting for the Team 29

4 Precinct 206 37

5 Voting, or Not 46

6 Voice of Westmoreland 51

7 Like, Share, Click 59

8 The Russians of Brighton 64

9 Selfish Donor, Seine Donor 74

Part II

10 Political Leisure 87

11 Whose Hobby? 94

12 Politically Spiritual, but Not Religious 101

Part III

13 Hobbyist Provocateur 109

14 Outrage and Compromise 117

15 Bringing Out the Worst in Us 127

16 Gateway Slacktivism 134

Part IV

17 The Dukakis Buffet 147

18 Rage Against the Machine 160

19 The Verbalist Elite 170

20 Fear and Fate 182

Part V

21 Learning to Want Power 199

22 To-Do Lists 210

Acknowledgments 219

Notes 223

Bibliography 251

Index 265

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