In this timely and provocative volume, some of the world's leading political and constitutional theorists come together to debate Michael Sandel's celebrated thesis that the United States is in the the grip of a flawed public philosophy - "procedural liberalism". Beginning with an original stage-setting introduction by Ronald Beiner, and ending with a reply by Michael Sandel, Sandel's liberal and feminist critics square off with his communitarian and civicrepublican sympathizers in a lively and wide-ranging discussion spanning constitutional law, culture, and political economy. Practical, topical issues of immigration, gay marriage, federalism, adoption, abortion, corporate speech, militias, and economic disparity are debated alongside theories of civicvirtue, citizenship, identity, and community. Not only does this volume provide the most comprehensive and insightful critique of Sandel's Democracy's Discontent to date - it also makes a very significant, substantive contribution to contemporary political and legal philosophy in its own right. It will prove essential reading for all those interested in the future of American politics, law, and public philosophy.
An award-winning historian argues that America's obsession with security imperils our democracy in this "compelling" portrait of cultural anxiety (Mary L. Dudziak, author of War Time). For the last sixty years, fear has seeped into every area of American life: Americans own more guns than citizens of any other country, sequester themselves in gated communities, and retreat from public spaces. And yet, crime rates have plummeted, making life in America safer than ever. Why, then, are Americans so afraid-and where does this fear lead to? In this remarkable work of social history, Elaine Tyler May demonstrates how our obsession with security has made citizens fear each other and distrust the government, making America less safe and less democratic. Fortress America charts the rise of a muscular national culture, undercutting the common good. Instead of a thriving democracy of engaged citizens, we have become a paranoid, bunkered, militarized, and divided vigilante nation.
How did the Christian Right come to predominate in the Republican Party? Why, on the other hand, do secular and religiously liberal beliefs largely prevail in the Democratic Party? Our understanding of the rift between the Democratic and Republican parties -- a rift in many ways fueled by religious beliefs -- requires an analysis of the entire spectrum of religious and nonreligious players in the American political process and how their influence has evolved over a long period of time. Employing a sizeable collection of data on party members, activists, and elites, Geoffrey Layman examines the role of religion in the Democratic and Republican parties, and the ways in which religion has influenced the political process from the early 1960s through the late 1990s. Using a wide variety of sources, including the American National Election Studies -- the major academic survey of the American electorate -- Layman reveals a vast and subtly differentiated landscape of political life and a more vivid basis upon which to analyze the ever-widening chasm between the parties. Layman investigates a broad spectrum of religious variety, citing differences between African American Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, nonreligious or seculars, and smaller religious groups, as well as political cleavages within these faith traditions. With his broad-based and thorough analysis, he counters the often narrow focus and incendiary rhetoric of many of the "culture war" debates.
Young people are volunteering in record numbers, but many of them don't vote. Why? In Taking Back the Vote, respected journalist and political commentator Jane Eisner analyzes this decline in voter participation and suggests concrete ways of reinvigorating our youth to get out and vote. Eisner uses the historic 1972 legislation that gave eighteen-year-olds the right to vote as a starting point in her book, then she traces how and why young people have slowly stopped voting since that time. But Eisner asserts that this trend of declining voter and political participation can be reversed, and it is up to parents, teachers, coaches, and others to make that happen. Civic education, Eisner feels, is the key to bringing young people back into the voting booths. High schools in particular need to be offering civic education in the same way that they offer music, math, or sports education. Registering to vote needs to be easier. The act of voting needs to be more fully recognized by society-perhaps through something like a First Vote ritual, which would mark a young person's coming of age as a voter. Filled with moving stories of kids becoming engaged as citizens as well as information for young people as they begin their civic involvement, Taking Back the Vote an inspiring resource for parents, teachers, community leaders, and all mentors who recognize the importance of empowering new voters.
Why American democracy favors the affluent and educated Politically active individuals and organizations make huge investments of time, energy, and money to influence everything from election outcomes to congressional subcommittee hearings to local school politics, while other groups and individual citizens seem woefully underrepresented in our political system. The Unheavenly Chorus is the most comprehensive and systematic examination of political voice in America ever undertaken--and its findings are sobering. The Unheavenly Chorus is the first book to look at the political participation of individual citizens alongside the political advocacy of thousands of organized interests--membership associations such as unions, professional associations, trade associations, and citizens groups, as well as organizations like corporations, hospitals, and universities. Drawing on numerous in-depth surveys of members of the public as well as the largest database of interest organizations ever created--representing more than thirty-five thousand organizations over a twenty-five-year period--this book conclusively demonstrates that American democracy is marred by deeply ingrained and persistent class-based political inequality. The well educated and affluent are active in many ways to make their voices heard, while the less advantaged are not. This book reveals how the political voices of organized interests are even less representative than those of individuals, how political advantage is handed down across generations, how recruitment to political activity perpetuates and exaggerates existing biases, how political voice on the Internet replicates these inequalities--and more. In a true democracy, the preferences and needs of all citizens deserve equal consideration. Yet equal consideration is only possible with equal citizen voice. The Unheavenly Chorus reveals how far we really are from the democratic ideal and how hard it would be to attain it.