Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent

E.J. Dionne Jr. Bloomsbury, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60819-201-4
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Dionne (Why Americans Hate Politics)—Washington Post columnist, NPR commentator, and Georgetown University professor—puts on his scholarly hat to offer a much-needed fact-based review of the Constitution, a realistic portrait of its creators, and a balanced history of the ongoing friction in the American psyche between desires for liberty and commonwealth. He suggests that America has nurtured “communitarian individualists—and individualistic communitarians,” and that “we often treat the Founders of our country not as the gifted statesmen and politicians they are, but as religious prophets.” By accepting commitments to individualism and community, he argues, we can see government as a constructive force, an approach “far more consistent with the Founders’ intentions and the broad trajectory of our history than are the alternatives promoted by the Tea Party and its allies that cast government as inherently oppressive, necessarily wasteful, and... damaging to... growth and prosperity.” The book clarifies much misinformation swirling around controversies about the founding fathers, the validity of originalism, and the traditional and historic roles of government and the free market in U.S. society. Despite its sometimes academic tone, Tea Partiers and Occupiers alike may be surprised and enlightened by this lucid analysis, all the more convincing for its sympathetic treatment of both sides of the argument. Agent: Gail Ross, Ross Yoon Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2012
Release date: 05/22/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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