Bad title, decent book, but not a lot new here. I like it when political scientists try to reach a broader audience, but there's a way to combine that with careful research. I have some serious questions about how they define region (ND and AZ in the same region.....seriously?), but it's still a good overview of current politics. These guys understand what's going on politically better than almost anyone else.John
Authors had a great idea for a book on politics beyond the Reign of W, spending the past couple of years assiduously putting together a slew of statistics to back up their professional analysis of current American politics.Then Karl Rove's brilliant strategy imploded, and the electorate turned on the administration, pretty well across the board, though with some demographics more strongly than others. So ... it's tough to extrapolate the pre-implosion data (pre-2004) to 2008 and beyond.The book went to press after the 2006 elections, and the authors do mention the results in the Foreward. However, I'm deducting two stars: one because it reads like a college statistics thesis in large part, and another because the data is (to some extent, debateable how much) not relevant for the next political cycle.Hapzydeco
Divided America reads a bit slowly, and only those with a passion for the subject will find it easy going. That being said, it is a very interesting read for anyone, no matter what his or her politics.Tom Sulcer
The Black brothers, both professors of political science at different southern universities, have done an excellent job of describing one of America's current ills -- partisanship -- with excellent statistics and research.They have hit on a major flaw with American democracy and describe it accurately. Politics has become "ideologically charged" and point out that America's "unstable power politics generates relentlessly bitter conflicts over a huge range of domestic and foreign policies and motivates activists in both parties to compete fiercely all the time." I see the venom daily -- activists from both sides cutting at each other's throats without being able to compromise. They write: "the incessant personal attacks mean that especially thick skins are necessary for America's leading politicians." They're right.They map out partisanship: Democrats controlling the Pacific & Northeast, Republicans controlling the South and Mountain states, with the midwest up for grabs. That partisan forces are evenly balanced means "ferocious competition" as they rightly point out, leading to a "permanently competitive situation." This doesn't bode well for the future of American democracy, which requires tolerance and compromise to function effectively.What the authors fail to see, however, is the more dangerous, underlying, looming problem with America, of which partisanship is merely a symptom. It is this: the political process is broken. Washington is corrupt. Congress is gridlocked. There's a dangerous concentration of power in the executive branch in one person -- the president -- and the usual system of checks and balances seems to have come undone. The federal system is askew -- ideally state governments should regulate their own economies, but Washington has usurped this power through numerous rulings, often encouraged by the Supreme Court. And this body of unelected justices has, in many respects, assumed a quasi-legislative role, which was never intended by the Constitution's Framers, because it has the power to strike down any law it deems unconstitutional. Washington is like a giant crashed computer, unresponsive to keystrokes, and unable to cope with serious issues such as Social Security underfunding, the specter of terrorism, financial meltdowns, global warming, corruption, lobbying running rampant, and so on.Americans should read not only this book, but "The American Lie" by Benjamin Ginsberg; "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution" by Kevin R. C. Gutzman; "Common Sense II: How to Prevent the Three Types of Terrorism" by me; "Up To Our Eyeballs" by several authors; "Our Undemocratic Constitution" by Sanford Levinson; "How America Got It Right" by Bevin Alexander (a tough critique of American foreign policy). Generally, these are tough, non-partisan looks at a nation in deep denial. I think the problems are so dangerous that a Second Constitutional Convention is required to fix them, so I have summoned this body, using my authority as a private citizen, and it will convene in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, beginning July 4th, 2009.This book is one part of a big puzzle, but Americans are urged to keep reading.David
Divides US into 5 pieces. Two (south and mountain) republican strongholds, 2 democrat (northeast and pacific), and midwest (up for grabs). Describes changes in party alignments over the last 50 some years and predicts next few elections.Many, many charts and graphs. If you don't want all the details, don't read this book by 2 academic poli scis. If you want to know why American politics is so screwed up, you can find out here...