Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It

Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman. Bloomsbury, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63286-109-2
Despite the authors’ impressive credentials––Potter is an analyst at the Center for Public Integrity and Penniman runs the group Issue One, which advocates for campaign finance reform––there’s little here that readers won’t have seen before, at least if they have any knowledge of the role of money in contemporary American politics. The basic facts are largely familiar: the millions the Koch brothers intend to spend to influence the 2016 presidential election, the damaging effect of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Potter and Penniman hope to make this issue a subject of everyday conversation, by linking corruption to policy decisions that are made in opposition to the public interest. They do so in sections on how money influences federal legislation on energy, banking, medicine, and toxins, but again break no new ground. The final section delivers an exhortation to a disenfranchised electorate to reclaim its government, but the authors offer little grounds for hope; on the federal level, they note that President Barack Obama and the SEC could have taken unilateral action but haven’t yet, without explaining why there’s any likelihood that they might do so in the future. This is a good primer for someone completely new to the topic. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 03/01/2016
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-6490-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-63286-111-5
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