Washington Post columnist Dionne (Why Americans Hate Politics, 1991) turns his attention to the so-called Republican realignment of the 1994 elections and reaches a surprising conclusion. ""The new radicalism in American politics means that the debate in 1996 and beyond is not simply a contest between political parties,"" Dionne writes, ""It is a confrontation between fundamentally different approaches to economic turbulence, moral uncertainty and international disorder."" Dionne argues convincingly that there is actually ample precedent for the upheavals affecting the American political scene today; he draws striking parallels with the last third of the 19th century and the rise of the Progressive movement. A shrewd social critic with a good grasp of history, he argues that American politics is undergoing four simultaneous and interlinked crises: The first is the impact of the increasingly globalized economy--downsizing, loss of jobs, benefits, and wages; that in turn leads to a crisis of politics, as government is unable to protect its constituents and offer socioeconomic stability; then, the new economic realities batter the family, precipitating a moral crisis; and finally, the post--Cold War blues force Americans to face hard questions about the place of their country on the changing map of the world. The problem, he argues, is that politicians and ideologues have used the four crises like a shell game, manipulating one to avoid dealing with another. He traces the rise of disaffected middle-class voters (the ""Anxious Middle""), and offers sterling analyses of why the Clinton administration has failed on the Hill and where the shortcomings of Newt Gingrich's vision lie. Dionne points out that Gingrich ""seeks to define away almost all the problems that Americans want politicians to grapple with""--a recipe for disaster. The 1995 election results suggest that Dionne may be onto something that nobody else has noticed. If the Republican Revolution does indeed stall, Dionne's convincing and acute analysis will have predicted it.
Pub Date: Feb. 20, 1996
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995
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