Decrying the influence of political and financial elites, veteran pundit Phillips ( The Emerging Republican Majority ) here attempts to channel the dissatisfactions of the general populace, as evinced on radio talk shows, into national reform. ``Capitals rot first,'' he declares, drawing briefly on such historical analogues as Hapsburg Spain and 18th-century Holland to buttress his argument that the current centers of American power, Washington and Wall Street, have sunk into decadence. Echoing recent critiques like Jonathan Rauch's Demo sclerosis , he highlights a bipartisan support for the government status quo. While Phillips wisely focuses on governmental, not social reform, his generalization that conservatives blame cultural weakness while liberals underscore economic decline ignores the influence of more nuanced thinkers like Cornel West. Among Phillips's better suggestions: move away from the two-party system by allowing referenda and considering proportional representation; raise taxes on the ``really rich.'' Some problems, like the mercenary culture of lobbyists, may be less amenable to remedy by policy than by moral suasion, but Phillips sets an agenda for debate. Author tour. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994 Release date: 09/01/1994 Genre: Nonfiction
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