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The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America

Or, Why A Progressive Presidency Is Impossible

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Paperback published by Melville House (Melville House)

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About This Book
The publisher of Harper’s Magazine presents “an able, witty, and suitably pissed-off guide” (Bookforum) to American politics
 
Barack Obama swept into the White House in January 2009 still floating—or so it appeared to millions of his admirers—high above the crude realities of contemporary American political life. Old-fashioned landmarks—party loyalty, ideology, campaign fundraising, patronage, corruption, even race—seemed hopelessly outdated as points of reference for understanding what was trumpeted as a new phenomenon in the nation’s civic history.

But nearly four years after Barack Obama’s election, elite interests in America remain triumphant. Nearly all measures of inequality continue to rise. And barriers to entry to our political process have reached nearly insurmountable heights.

Looking closely at Congress, elections, and money in politics, and sparing neither side of the political spectrum, John R. Mac­Arthur delivers a devastating exposé of the entrenched interests and elites that make change in America—even by a supposedly progressive president—so arduous. What, Mac­Arthur asks, could change this system?
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The publisher of Harper’s Magazine presents “an able, witty, and suitably pissed-off guide” (Bookforum) to American politics
 
Barack Obama swept into the White House in January 2009 still floating—or so it appeared to millions of his admirers—high above the crude realities of contemporary American political life. Old-fashioned landmarks—party loyalty, ideology, campaign fundraising, patronage, corruption, even race—seemed hopelessly outdated as points of reference for understanding what was trumpeted as a new phenomenon in the nation’s civic history.

But nearly four years after Barack Obama’s election, elite interests in America remain triumphant. Nearly all measures of inequality continue to rise. And barriers to entry to our political process have reached nearly insurmountable heights.

Looking closely at Congress, elections, and money in politics, and sparing neither side of the political spectrum, John R. Mac­Arthur delivers a devastating exposé of the entrenched interests and elites that make change in America—even by a supposedly progressive president—so arduous. What, Mac­Arthur asks, could change this system?
Product Details
Paperback (320 pages)
Published: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Melville House
Imprint: Melville House
ISBN: 9781612191379
Other books byJohn R. Macarthur
  • You Can't Be President

    You Can't Be President
    The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America
    "This book lays bare the malfunctions of our democracy and the solutions in a superb literary style and a convincing manner." George McGovern, Democratic candidate for President, 1972 It seems like an historic election: A woman almost won the nomination to run for President of the United states—losing to an African-American, who will run against the oldest candidate ever! It’s the realization of one of the core beliefs of our democracy: Anyone can be president. Or is it? What if a close analysis showed that the candidates were, for the most part, getting their financing from the same corporations and lobbyists … that they all went to the same schools … that their votes were remarkably similarly on most issues …? In a rollicking piece of journalism based on years of reporting, John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, talks to truly independent candidates—including the first ever post-election interview of Joe Lieberman nemesis Ned Lamont—about what they were up against. He gives the most detailed breakdown yet of campaign financing sources. He analyzes the parameters of the two party system, what the Constitution has to say about that, and how the media treats independent politicians. And he also discusses how all this influences issues of local democracy. It’s an edgy, fascinating look at the system that’s a must-read to understand whether the most historic election in American history is really going to be about change … or not.

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