Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People

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9780816656776: Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People
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Dana D. Nelson argues that it is the office of the presidency itself that endangers the great American experiment. This urgent book, with new analysis of President Barack Obama's first months in office, reveals the futility of placing all of our hopes for the future in the American president and encourages citizens to create a politics of deliberation, action, and agency.

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Book Description:

Throughout our history, Americans have been simultaneously inspired and seduced by the American presidency and concerned about the misuse of presidential power—from the time of Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR to Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush—as a grave threat to the United States. In Bad for Democracy, Dana D. Nelson goes beyond blaming particular presidents for jeopardizing the delicate balance of the Constitution to argue that it is the office of the presidency itself that endangers the great American experiment.

The emotional impulse to see the president as a hero, Nelson contends, has ceded our ability to practice government by the people and for the people. She shows that exercising democratic rights has become idealized as—and woefully limited to—the act of voting for the president.

This urgent book reveals the futility of placing all of our hopes for the future in the American president and encourages citizens to create a politics of deliberation, action, and agency. Arguing for a return of the balance of power—both symbolically and in practice—to all the branches of government, Nelson ultimately calls on Americans to change our own course and imagine a democracy that we, the people, lead together.

About the Author:

Dana D. Nelson is a professor of English and American studies at Vanderbilt University, where she teaches classes in U.S. literature and history, and courses that connect activism, volunteering, and citizenship. She has published numerous books and essays on U.S. literature and the history of citizenship and democratic culture. She lives in Nashville and is involved locally with a program that helps incarcerated women develop strong decision-making skills and with an innovative activist group fighting homelessness in the area.

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9780816656783: Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People

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ISBN 10: 0816656789 ISBN 13: 9780816656783
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2010
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