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One of America’s foremost historians looks at the state of American democracy and the influence of the Catholic Church
How is it possible for minorities to rule majorities? An answer can be found by looking at both George Bush's Republican Party and the Catholic Church.
Bush’s Fringe Government is an inquiry into how an extremely conservative fringe in these organizations, although in the minority, have a disproportionate influence on a broad range of issues, and use their influence to govern the majority. By exploring the ways in which the election of Pope Benedict XVI has increased the influence of very conservative Catholics in the Vatican, Garry Wills offers a lucid and striking explanation of the political coalition between Catholics and evangelicals–a partnership that has been instrumental in electing Republicans in the United States and keeping conservative issues in the forefront of American political discourse. As Wills puts it, “How do you govern an apostate nation? When the entire culture is corrupted, the country can only be morally governed in spite of itself. A collection of aggrieved minorities must seize the levers of power in every way possible. One must govern not from a broad consensual center but from activist fringes of morality.”
Juxtaposing Karl Rove and the Bush administration’s political strategy to that of conservatives in the Catholic Church, Wills’s examination of extremist fringe elements is a major piece of political analysis by one of our most highly regarded commentators. Its timely publication is essential reading for the 2006 elections in the United States.
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GARRY WILLS was born in Atlanta, Georgia. One of our most distinguished historians and critics, he is the author of numerous books, including Saint Augustine, Papal Sin, and the Pulitzer Prize—winning Lincoln at Gettysburg. He has won many other awards, among them two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the 1998 National Medal for the Humanities. He is currently Adjunct Professor of History at Northwestern University, and is the editor for the Fall 2006 NYRB Classic The Jeffersonian Transformation. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he lives in Evanston, Illinois.
JAMES CARROLL was born in Chicago and raised in Washington, D.C. He has been a civil rights worker, an antiwar activist, and a community organizer in Washington and New York. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and served as Catholic chaplain at Boston University. Carroll left the priesthood to become a novelist and playwright. He lives in Boston with his wife, the novelist Alexandra Marshall, and their two children.
Wills explores how the Bush administration, with its use of faith-based initiatives and reliance on Christian conservatives, has transformed thinking on war, science, social justice, the environment, and religion itself. Conservative Catholics, under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, have lent support to Bush in reaction to concerns about secular American culture. Will details a strong Evangelical-Catholic coalition that advocates open resistance to government and courts that promulgate rules and laws at odds with religious beliefs on issues from abortion to stem-cell research to the right to die when terminally ill. However minority their opinions may be on these issues, religious conservatives maintain that in an apostate nation, the country "can only be morally governed in spite of itself." In this slim book, Wills offers an insightful and penetrating look at the troubling blurring of lines between the government and religion. Vanessa Bush
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