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OUR CULTURE OF PANDERING

Paul Simon, Author
Paul Simon, Author . Southern Illinois Univ. $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8093-2529-0
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8093-2733-1
Hardcover - 225 pages - 978-0-585-49646-7
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Former Illinois senator Simon (Freedom's Champion: Elijah Lovejoy) joins the growing chorus of commentators from the left, right and center who believe there is something seriously wrong with the United States' most cherished institutions. Simon, who now is a director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Southern Illinois, sets out his major thesis in the book's title. Simon passionately believes that politicians, the media, religious leaders and educators have, individually and collectively, abandoned their responsibility to lead. In place of a commitment to do what is best for America, even if it means proposing unpopular policies, leaders in each of these fields have substituted a commitment to tell their constituencies, particularly those with money and power, what they want to hear, in a way they want to hear it. In doing so, says Simon, they have made us vulnerable to future political, moral and economic disasters. Simon's diagnosis—that politics is driven by money, pollsters and above all else a desire for reelection—has been already made by other commentators, as have his complaints about the media. More novel and more interesting are his comments about how religious leaders have failed to provide meaningful spiritual guidance. Simon argues that religious leaders pander to their congregations by asking them only for capital contributions rather for than the sacrifices he feels define the Judeo-Christian ethic, mainly to provide assistance for the poor and the less fortunate. Missing in this book, and others like it, is an analysis of why Americans are willing to settle for being pandered to. (Oct. 23)

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