cover image Uniting America: Restoring the Vital Center to American Democracy

Uniting America: Restoring the Vital Center to American Democracy

. Yale University Press, $37 (287pp) ISBN 978-0-300-10856-9

If there is, indeed, an expanding chasm separating the left and right in contemporary American politics, it exists largely as a specter employed by politicians more interested in manipulating voters than creating policies consistent with mainstream America's values. Editors Garfinkle, chairman of the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, and Yankelovich, founder and chairman of policy research organization Public Agenda, note America has rebounded from periods of great strife and disunity (the turbulence of the '60s and '70s, the Civil War), and the current divides aren't as bad as they could be. Essays examine topics from environmentalism to the war on terror and all conclude compromise is the key to finding acceptable ways to promote a healthy democracy. If the thesis sounds simple enough, the authors also dutifully bolster their case with a barrage of statistics and research (though a not unsubstantial portion of figures are supplied by Yankelovich's Public Agenda) to dispel the notion that the nation is being torn between two poles. Not a light read, the book will be appreciated and debated by scholars and those who work in public policy. Casual readers may soon find themselves in over their heads.