Political Thought in America: Conversations and Debates, Fourth Edition

Waveland Press
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Political Thought in America is based on the idea that there are three major languages or traditions of discourse that Americans have employed to interpret the national experience: biblical thought, republicanism, and liberalism, interpreted through the lens of two other languagesconservatism and radicalism.


The authors engaging style brings the American political experience to life with clarity and vision, immersing readers into the politics surrounding eleven great crises in our nations history. Through the eyes of philosophers, writers, and orators of each period and the voices of commentators both historical and current, political theories are outlined in the context of the debates and conversations of the men and women who have struggled to extricate the nation from crisis.

New to the fourth edition are an analysis of the impact of Barack Obama on contemporary American political discourse, recent developments in the war on terror, and a section on gay and lesbian protest. A new chapter has been added that discusses the phenomenon of globalization and its challenge to American exceptionalism. As in previous editions, each chapter ends with an insightful author commentary and contains an up-to-date and comprehensive bibliographical essay, along with a list of major works for each period.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Waveland Press
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Published on
Oct 22, 2009
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Pages
385
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ISBN
9781478607663
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Although Samuel Johnson once remarked that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels," over the course of the history of the United States we have seen our share of heroes: patriots who have willingly put their lives at risk for this country and, especially, its principles. And this is even more remarkable given that the United States is a country founded on the principles of equality and democracy that encourage individuality and autonomy far more readily than public spiritedness and self-sacrifice.

Walter Berns's Making Patriots is a pithy and provocative essay on precisely this paradox. How is patriotism inculcated in a system that, some argue, is founded on self-interest? Expertly and intelligibly guiding the reader through the history and philosophy of patriotism in a republic, from the ancient Greeks through contemporary life, Berns considers the unique nature of patriotism in the United States and its precarious state. And he argues that while both public education and the influence of religion once helped to foster a public-minded citizenry, the very idea of patriotism is currently under attack.

Berns finds the best answers to his questions in the thought and words of Abraham Lincoln, who understood perhaps better than anyone what the principles of democracy meant and what price adhering to them may exact. The graves at Arlington and Gettysburg and Omaha Beach in Normandy bear witness to the fact that self-interested individuals can become patriots, and Making Patriots is a compelling exploration of how this was done and how it might be again.
The historical significance of Barack Obama's triumph in the presidential election of 2008 scarcely requires comment. Yet it contains an irony: he won a victory as an African American only by denying that he should discuss issues that target the concerns of African Americans. Obama's very success, writes Fredrick Harris, exacted a heavy cost on black politics. In The Price of the Ticket, Harris puts Obama's career in the context of decades of black activism, showing how his election undermined the very movement that made it possible. The path to his presidency began just before passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, when black leaders began to discuss strategies to make the most of their new access to the ballot. Some argued that black voters should organize into a cohesive, independent bloc to promote both targeted and universal polices; others urged a more race-neutral approach, working together with other racial minorities as well as like-minded whites. This has been the fundamental divide within black politics ever since. At first, the gap did not seem serious. But the post-civil-rights era has accelerated a shift towards race-neutral politics. Obama made a point of distancing himself from older race-conscious black leaders, such as Jesse Jackson- and leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus-even though, as Harris shows, he owes much to Jackson's earlier campaigns for the White House. Unquestionably Obama's approach won support among whites, but Harris finds the results troublesome. The social problems targeted by an earlier generation of black politicians--racial disparities in income and education, stratospheric incarceration and unemployment rates--all persist, yet Obama's election, ironically, marginalized those issues, keeping them off the political agenda. Meanwhile, the civil-rights movement's militancy to attack the vestiges of racial inequality is fading. Written by one of America's leading scholars of race and politics, The Price of the Ticket will reshape our understanding of the rise of Barack Obama and the decline of a politics dedicated to challenging racial inequality head on.
Written in a lively, engaging style, The Food and Drink Police is a thoroughgoing examination and critique of the efforts of government agencies and private organizations (including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Food and Drug Administration) to regulate the dietary habits and choices of private citizens. Irreverent, yet always informed, the authors analyze the ideological motivations, spurious science, and assaults on freedom that underlie the activities of these groups. General readers, nutritionists and scientists in general, doctors, and government policymakers will find this indispensable reading.

Chapters such as "Eat, Drink, and Keel Over: Lasagna, Egg Rolls, and Popcorn Can Kill" discuss the "evils" of multicultural cuisine and coffee, and the "good news" about junk food. In "care for a Drink?" and "None for the Road" the authors provide an in-depth look at Prohibition 1990s-style; "Glow-in-the-Dark Eggs or Anal Leakage: Pick Your Poison" provocatively fuels the current debate on fake fats and irradiated beef.

In The Pleasure Police, David Shaw quotes the psychologist and advocate of "defensive" eating, Dr. Stephen Gullo, as advising his thin-obsessed patients to "drink tomato juice before ordering" in restaurants; tomato juice, after al, is "a natural appetite suppressant." To which Shaw adds, "I assume he also advises his clients to masturbate before making love." James T. Bennett and Thomas J. DiLorenzo expose this sort of convoluted advice in The Food and Drink Police, a timely and important contribution to the cultural debate on government and private choice.

By the bestselling author and XM and Sirius Satellite radio host heard on more than eighty radio stations coast to coast seven days a week Reveals how the middle class, nurtured as the backbone of democracy by our Founding Fathers, is being undermined by so-called conservatives Shows how we can reverse the erosion of the middle class and restore the egalitarian vision of the Founders Expanded edition with a new chapter on immigration and a new afterword by Greg Palast The American middle class is on its deathbed. Ordinary folks who put in a solid day's work can no longer afford to buy a house, send their kids to college, or even get sick. If you're not a CEO, you're probably screwed. America wasn't meant to be like this. Air America Radio host Thom Hartmann shows that our Founding Fathers worked hard to ensure that a small group of wealthy people would never dominate this country--they'd had enough of aristocracy. They put policies in place to ensure a thriving middle class. When the middle class took a hit, beginning in the post-Civil War Gilded Age and culminating in the Great Depression, democracy-loving leaders like Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower revitalized it through initiatives like antitrust regulations, fair labor laws, the minimum wage, Social Security, and Medicare. So what happened? In the last twenty-five years, we've witnessed an undeclared war against the middle class. The so-called conservatives waging this war are only interested in conserving--and steadily increasing--their own wealth and power. Hartmann shows how, under the guise of "freeing" the market, they've systematically dismantled the programs set up by Republicans and Democrats to protect the middle class and have installed policies that favor the superrich and corporations. But it's not too late to return to the America our Founders envisioned. Hartmann outlines a series of commonsense proposals that will ensure that our public institutions are not turned into private fiefdoms and that people's basic needs--education, health care, a living wage--are met in a way that allows the middle class to expand, not shrink. America will be stronger with a growing, prospering middle class--rule by the rich will only make it weaker. Democracy requires a fair playing field, and it will survive only if We the People stand up, speak out, and reclaim our democratic birthright.
Universal basic income. A 15-hour workweek. Open borders. Does it sound too good to be true? One of Europe's leading young thinkers shows how we can build an ideal world today.
"A more politically radical Malcolm Gladwell." --New York Times
After working all day at jobs we often dislike, we buy things we don't need. Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, reminds us it needn't be this way-and in some places it isn't.

Rutger Bregman's TED Talk about universal basic income seemed impossibly radical when he delivered it in 2014. A quarter of a million views later, the subject of that video is being seriously considered by leading economists and government leaders the world over. It's just one of the many utopian ideas that Bregman proves is possible today.

Utopia for Realists is one of those rare books that takes you by surprise and challenges what you think can happen. From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty, to Richard Nixon's near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, Bregman takes us on a journey through history, and beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he champions ideas whose time have come.

Every progressive milestone of civilization-from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy-was once considered a utopian fantasy. Bregman's book, both challenging and bracing, demonstrates that new utopian ideas, like the elimination of poverty and the creation of the fifteen-hour workweek, can become a reality in our lifetime. Being unrealistic and unreasonable can in fact make the impossible inevitable, and it is the only way to build the ideal world.

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