Dangerous Convictions: What's Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress

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9780199931989: Dangerous Convictions: What's Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress
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The rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaign exposed the deeply rooted sources of political polarization in American. One side celebrated individualism and divided the public into "makers and takers;" the other preached "better together" as the path forward. Both focused their efforts on the "base" not the middle.

In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen argues that what's really wrong with Congress is the widening, hardening conflict in worldviews that leaves the two parties unable to understand how the other thinks about what people should do on their own and what we should do together. Members of Congress don't just disagree, they think the other side makes no sense. Why are conservatives preoccupied with cutting taxes, uninterested in expanding health care coverage and in denial about climate change? What will it take for Congress to recover a capacity for pragmatic compromise on these issues?

Allen writes that we should treat self-reliance (the quintessential American virtue) and community (our characteristic instinct to cooperate) as essential balancing components of American culture and politics, instead of setting them at war with each other. Combining his personal insights from 12 years In Congress with recent studies of how human beings form their political and religious views, Allen explains why we must escape the grip of our competing worldviews to enable Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.

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About the Author:


Tom Allen is President and CEO of the American Association of Publishers. He is a former U.S. Congressman representing Maine's 1st District from 1997 to 2009.

Review:


"With historically low ratings, Congress is regarded as 'dysfunctional' by Americans of all political persuasions. Why that is so, and what can be done to reduce excessive partisanship, is the subject of Tom Allen's well-informed and provocative book." -Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell


"This is an extraordinarily valuable examination of the most troubling concern of our time: the inability of our leaders in Washington to find consensus and forge compromise in the public interest. Readers will discover here a deeply penetrating analysis by an author who had unique opportunities to observe from the inside the causes and consequences of our current polarization. Anyone who wants to understand why contemporary politics so often results in failure cannot afford to miss this essential book." -G. Calvin Mackenzie, Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government, Colby College


"Allen, a former Democratic congressman from Maine and current president and CEO of the American Association of Publishers, offers a panoramic critique of Congress based on his 12 years in office (1997-2009), covering policy areas from the budget to health care....Allen's pragmatism and reason help frame major issues for Americans hungering for some legislative wisdom after the election." --Publishers Weekly


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