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Why Americans Hate Politics

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  18 reviews
All over the United States, Americans are deserting the political process. Why? In this national bestseller, one of our shrewdest political observers traces thirty years of volatile political history and finds that on point after point, liberals and conservatives are framing issues as a series of "false choices," making it impossible for politicians to solve problems, and ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Simon & Schuster (first published May 1991)
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James Carter
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Why Americans Hate Politics is a simple title, so I was expecting a bunch of simple answers.

Yet the author goes overboard with the political jargon that I gave up reading after 50 pages. Really, that's exactly why I hate politics in the first place.

The answer to the question is because the politicians represent corporations and special interest groups, never the people. It will be the biggest downfall of America. One day, a revolution will come when the have-nots will revolt against the haves
Bryan Alkire
Good info and analysis but dull writing. This book was written at the start of the 90’s so it’s dated, but the divisions it describes are still with us. The author outlines the 30-year period between the 60’s and 90’s and how the populist left and populist right destroyed the political center. It goes on to discuss each faction in the lost liberal coalition and each of the factions in the conservative coalition. Many of the issues and coalitions and issues therein are still relevant today, ...more
Richard Lister
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given the political divide in which we live, this book proved irresistible. Written at the advent of the 90s, it looks back at how the fissures in the political landscape formed over the preceding thirty years. Dionne brilliantly lays out how fissures formed between schools of political thought, examining the voices of those who led the changes.

The divide, that caused the disappearance of what Arthur Schlesinger called our "vital center" came about from factions taking insular world views. The
Feb 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: polemics
Dionne's intellectual history of the development of U.S. contempory political ideologies. The book is divided, first half left, second half right. The strenghts and weaknesses or each and their evolution until the dawn of the Clintonian era is explored. The book is a little dated, first published in 1991 and only spottily updated, save for the aferword; however, the themes explored remain easily identified and quickly contextualized. If anything, the distance from the bulk of the events Dionne ...more
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
as a lit major dabbling in politics, this was invaluable. most of the poli sci stuff i've picked up has been drab, numbers-obsessed, and blind to the concepts of what people are thinking when they vote.

this book wasn't the be-all-end-all (what is?) but i thought it was fundamentally fantastic - plain-spokenly, lucidly informative about what really drives the IDEAS of both sides of the u.s. political debates, and (without being strident) makes a case for the impossibility of that two-way
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, government
I don't entirely (or perhaps at all) agree with Dionne's thesis (that the political right and left present us with a series of false choices, since we are more centrist than anything else, and this is why we are turned off by politics), but this book is well worth reading. You will learn a lot.
Jim Sewastynowicz
This was an interesting history of politics in America, but i felt it overlooked some issues that were factors. Though I thought the synopsis had quite a few good points.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: americans who love politics
Of course, people who hate politics are the ones who should read books like this, but they never will.
Christopher Allen
Excellent primer of the history of politics from its ideological roots, though a difficult read without feeling the weight of history today and the impact of decades-old policy and ideological choices. A book published in 1991 (new intro in 2004) reminds us that the decline of participatory democracy began in the Sixties as parties shifted to rule by elites and a class system divorced of the values and reform-minded goals of the average voter.

Items of note:
Bankrupt neoconservative ideology
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The trouble with the politics of polarization and sound bites is that it doesn't allow for the complexity and nuances inherent in the issues. Agreed. Unfortunately, after reading this book, I am aware of lots of examples of this, but have no idea what the causes or solutions are. Dionne advocates for a "new political center" but doesn't offer ideas for how to make that happen.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Dionne's book was published in 1991, with a renewed copyright in 2004. It's a very good history of American politics from the 1950s to the 1990s. Since I am familiar with that time period, I followed the allusions with no problem.

I did have a problem with the title. I am quite tired of hearing about Americans who hate politics. If you have a problem with politics, look in the mirror. If you are not involved in government at all levels, who is to blame for that? I know many dedicated politicians
Aug 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great primer for understanding the stubborn bipartisanship in US politics that preempts any real national debates on vital issues. This book provides valuable insights into why Americans are so skeptical of government and more easily lend their support to corporations and the private sector even while this support diminishes their civic participation. This book is sensitively written and centrist to the core which makes it quite even-handed, even while it makes it difficult to agree with Dionne ...more
Pete Davis
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best modern history of American politics I have read. A comprehensive, detailed, nuanced and accessible description of the rise and fall of the contemporary Left and Right and the consequences that followed said rises and falls. I have been working on a "what the heck happened?" project -- reading theories of American political decline -- and this book is a comprehensive answer to the political culture side of the question. I highly recommend this to all and especially to Milllenials ...more
Laura Labedz
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Good overview of the history of liberal and conservative politics in America in the 20th century. It was written in 1991 or 1992, though, so it doesn't address Clinton and Bush Jr. Still a good read for anyone who wants to know why and how power shifted from liberals to conservatives in the 20th century.
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had wanted to re-read this 1992 book for a while. Dionne's argument is that Americans hate politics because they are presented false choices by their leaders instead of solutions. The issues have changed since this was written, but the book contains a good history of both the conservative movement and the Left.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dionne puts together a really interesting history of both major US political parties. His conclusion is somewhat weak and misguided; overall it's a valuable addition to American political history after the Second World War.
great essays on partisanship and american political history from early 20th century to present.
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Eugene Joseph "E. J." Dionne, Jr. is an American journalist and political commentator, and a long-time op-ed columnist for The Washington Post. He is also a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture at the McCourt School of Public Policy, a Senior Research Fellow at Saint Anselm College, and an NPR, MSNBC, ...more