"Stephen Erickson has written an important and powerful book about uniting citizens on Left and Right to reform America's corrupted political system. Filled with characters, drama, success and failure, it reads like a great novel. But in this case, it's all true."
- Peter Schweizer, bestselling author of CLINTON CASH, EXTORTION and THROW THEM ALL OUT, and President of the Government Accountability Institute.
"Progressives need to read this book. We need to understand that we are missing opportunities to improve or democratic systems because we are not talking to each other."
- Joan Blades, Co-founder, MoveOn.org and Founder, Living Room Conversations
"As I read Stephen Erickson's book, I am awed by its honesty... WHAT WOULD MADISON DO? is a must read for citizens who want to take up the mantle of change, because its sobering account ensures that we who demand change are muscled-up for the fight to save our democracy."
- Arnie Arnesen, progressive media personality, former Democratic New Hampshire state legislator, candidate for governor and congress, and Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School.
"At a time in the United States' history when extreme partisan politics have become a dangerous new norm, it is refreshing to explore ideas that both the left and the right can equally embrace. Stephen Erickson has made a valiant argument for common sense reforms that would tame the beast that Americans abhor, namely, special interests with their vice-like grip on our elected representatives. WHAT WOULD MADISON DO? should serve as THE springboard for united action to help save our republic."
- Colleen Conley, Founder, Rhode Island Tea Party, and Managing Editor, RightAlerts.com
As the above quotes suggest, the American people of all political persuasions have lost faith in their government. They believe that their elected officials are more concerned with serving selfish interests than the broad and long-term good of the nation. Government appears ineffectual, incompetent and corrupt. The dysfunction only seems to be getting worse with no solution in sight.
What has gone wrong with America's political system? What would James Madison do? What can an ordinary citizen do?
These are the questions that citizen-activist Stephen Erickson asked himself when he embarked on his improbable journey to "save America" from the everyday corruption and political dysfunction that is destroying our republic. His story weaves together three threads:
First, Erickson retraces his own obstacle-strewn path through the world of American political reform as he works to broker a grand bargain between progressive and conservative leaders. The cast of characters he encounters along the way include Senator Tom Coburn, Harvard Law reformer Larry Lessig, Ralph Nader, Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer, Dennis Kucinich, Jack Abramoff, Dylan Ratigan, Charlie Koch, the staff leadership of Common Cause, and many others.
Second, drawing on his background in American History, Erickson applies the reasoning of James Madison to the current dysfunction. He shows how the incentives Madison hoped to incorporate into the American political system have been completely reversed in our time, and how the current system continually sacrifices the broad and long term good of the country at the altar of selfish interests.
Third, Erickson illustrates the thorny political problems associated with building a bipartisan movement to clean up our political system. He explains how we can overcome debilitating partisanship to restore government of, by and for, the people.
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About the Author
In 1990s Erickson ended work on a doctorate in Early American History to take a job as Resident Scholar at US Term Limits. At the time, he published scholarly articles for the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute on the subjects of James Madison, term limits, and a history of the entrenching of incumbency in the US House of Representatives.
In 1995 Erickson left Washington DC to make a life in New Hampshire, variously as a teacher, real estate agent, landlord, author, husband and father. Putting a new twist on the concept of "Mr. Smith going to Washington," Mr. Erickson, in 2010 - without political clout or connections - took it upon himself to attempt to broker a grand bargain between well-known reform-minded leaders on the American Left and Right to clean up our corrupted political system.
Erickson's scholarly knowledge of Madison and the American founding, combined with his hands-on experience working as a reformer, offers concerned citizens a unique non-partisan perspective on what's gone wrong with our political system and what we can do to fix it.
Stephen Erickson is also co-author of the critically acclaimed history, BOON ISLAND: A TRUE STORY OF MUTINY, SHIPWRECK AND CANNIBALISM