Why Americans Hate Politics, by E.J. Dionne, Jr.
I started reading this book last week. I've only read the introduction, and I'm already in love. This book was written in 1991, and I wish there was a second updated edition. It talks about how both liberals and conservatives are to blame for giving the American public false choices and false issues. Below are a few excerpts that I really enjoyed.
"...for so many years our politics has been trivial and even stupid."
"Americans have begun to doubt their ability to improve the world through politics."
"Americans view politics with boredom and detachment. For most of us, politics is increasingly abstract, a spectator sport barely worth watching."
"Voters doubt that elections give them any real control over what the government does, and half of them don't bother to cast ballots."
"Social gaps...grow wider...We have less and less to do with each other, meaning that we feel few obligations to each other and are less and less inclined to vindicate each other's rights."
"On issue after issue, there is consensus on where the country should move or at least on what we should be arguing about; liberalism and conservatism make it impossible for that consensus to express itself."
"We are still trapped in the 1960s."
"By continuing to live in the 1960s, conservatives and liberals have distorted their own doctrines and refused to face up to the contradictions within their creeds. Both sides constantly invoke individual "rights" and then criticize each other for evading issues involving individual and collective responsibility. Each side claims to have a communitarian vision but backs away from community whenever its demands come into conflict with one of its cherished virtues."
"Now, insofar as voters identify with groups, it is often with abstract national groups rather than concrete local ones. An Italian machinist in a Detroit suburb may identify himself more with his fellow gun owners than with his ethnic group, his neighborhood, or his fellow workers. Since he believes that politics will do little to improve his life or that of his community, he votes defensively: If the government won't do anything for him, he damn well won't let it do anything against him, such as tax him more heavily or take away his gun. It is not an irrational response, given the current state of our politics."


Dee said...

I agree with all of it. I swear Obama read this because I see so much of his strategy influenced by many of these ideas. His message about unity and restoring trust in government again. His controversial comment about people clinging to their guns because they are distrustful of government to do anything to help them.
I feel like, above all, his greatest message is this. I see him taking a stand about "spreading the wealth" around. He actually said that to Joe the Plumber. He has inspired so many, millions more to get out and vote this year, and to donate in unprecedented numbers. I feel more participation than ever, although much of this is the result of overall unhappiness about the last 8 years.

I know you don't support Obama, but at the very least he is a unifier, inspirational leader, one who has restored hope that someone in Gov't is actually standing up for us, yes?

Sorry, I don't mean to spin your beautiful post into a pro-Obama rant! I do love Nader too.

Thanks for sharing about the book. It looks so very interesting!

Ann Marie said...

Obama is exactly what this book is talking about. He's giving us false choices. He's giving us a health care plan that contiues to benefit insurance companies, not us. He talks about helping the middle class...but what about the poor? The number of people in poverty continues to grow. He helps the corporations by supporting nuclear and coal energy. Obama is a brand. Not a solution.

Dee said...

Yep, you could be right. I see it a little differently now, but that could change.