Citizens Uniting offers a fresh perspective on the major challenges now besetting our democracy, along with some new ways of thinking about solutions. The initial impetus behind the book arose from the Supreme Court’s January, 2010 Citizens United decision, but as the toxic effects of the Court’s decision began to spread through our political system in the following months, the book’s analysis expanded beyond the harm that new floods of money were inflicting on our democracy, to examine other major diseases in our body politic, such as excessive partisanship.
The author’s own political experience, through several decades of public service, had left him deeply impressed by the kind of active democratic citizenship that sustained and kept improving not only his own community but also hundreds of others across the country — even as our larger political institutions seemed to be sinking deeper into dysfunction.
It was against this background that the election of 2016 threw the country into political waters so unfamiliar and turbulent that many of those most troubled by these new developments became so focused on the Trump phenomenon and how it could be terminated that they lost sight altogether of how sick and wounded our democracy had already become in the years before 2016.
This book seeks to lengthen our time horizons by reminding readers both that the major problems now besetting our democracy have roots reaching years before the 2016 election, and that any meaningful efforts to fashion solutions will have to be sustained well beyond the next election.
In addition to taking a longer view, the book adds a layer of depth missing from most analyses of political dysfunction by focusing on the transformative potential latent in the everyday practice of engaged citizenship. Leveraged by new mechanisms like an effective democracy lobby of the kind the book advocates, that deep reservoir of active, hands-on citizenship must now be mobilized into a 21st century version of the Progressive movement, providing both necessary and sufficient conditions for the renewal of our democratic institutions.
You can find Citizens Uniting at Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon, or ask for it at your local bookstore.