The Trouble with America

The Trouble with America : Flawed Government, Failed Society

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The Trouble with America critiques the theory and practice of American government, focusing on the fatal flaws of America's core political arrangements. Institutionalized pluralism, the structural dispersal of power, generates government too weak to solve our public problems. American constitutionalism, the limitation of government power and authority, protects property rights far better than it defends our civil liberties, and it offers little or no protection for non-citizens. Capitalism is a hyper-competitive and grossly unfair economic system, which rewards pre-existing wealth far better than hard work or talent, and encourages petty materialist consumption of mostly low-quality goods, undermining taste as well as fairness. Taken together, pluralism, constitutionalism, and capitalism in America harm our society in a myriad of ways, leaving us with inadequate representation, poor leadership, social and political paralysis and irresponsibility, unrealistic self-images, and scandalously poor domestic and foreign policies. This book will prove a valuable supplement in American government courses, an alternative to the centrist material currently dominating textbooks on this subject.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 164 pages
  • MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739132717
  • 9780739132715

Review quote

The Trouble with America is an important contribution to the political science literature. It is thoroughly researched, provocative, skillfully written and interesting throughout. Long's book will be appreciated by scholars and students alike for its broad and insightful perspective on American politics and public policy....--Stefanie Chambers Kenneth Long's slender volume lands a heavy blow against American triumphalism. In The Trouble with America, Long unapologetically interrogates the sacred principles and practices of American government, exposing them as seductive shibboleths that cloak the discrimination, disenfranchisement, and dysfunction that Long maintains have characterized the American experiment since its beginning. Few will read this ostentatiously polemical book without experiencing some discomfort or even outrage. But fewer still will finish The Trouble with America feeling confident that the American polity's commitment to pluralism, constitutionalism, and capitalism can create either now or in the future a country in which all Americans can 'lift up their voices.'''--Ronald P. Seyb Professor Long is far too modest in presenting this work as an 'ancillary text.' It indeed fulfills that purpose by presenting students with a carefully articulated critical evaluation of American politics and government, but it also offers students, scholars, and laypersons a tightly argued and empirically supported analysis of the nature of our political system. Long forcefully demonstrates how the very values and institutions (pluralism, constitutionalism, and capitalism) which we associate with the success of American democracy contain indigenous pathologies that often subvert our best intentions and hopes. This work, however, is far from a Jeremiad. It is premised on the assumption that the path forward can be discerned by illuminating the politicalecology through which it must pass..--John G. Gunnell, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany-SUNY Not since Duane Lockard's 1971 The Perverted Priorities of American Politics or Howard Zinn's or Noam Chomsky's more recent body blows to the establishment have we had such a fresh and deep critique of our beloved system. This self-styled 'irreverent' volume is no lightweight piece of dilettantism, nor is it the counterfactual rant of an ideologue. However much discomfort it may engender, it is clearly based on fundamental and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the core institutions of American government, both in their historical formation and their current operation. The book's argument that the inadequacies were intentionally structured into the very institutions that govern us is, to me, enormously persuasive. That's why I 'salivate' over using it as a counter to one of the many apologias for our current system of governance, whether it be in the basic American Government course or in American Political Thought. Imagine the class discussion!!--Harald M. Sandstr m
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About Kenneth J Long

Kenneth J. Long is professor of history and political science at Saint Joseph College.
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