An optimistically presented introduction to politics, mostly American, for those who don’t even vote.
This thorough look (some might ungenerously call it wordy) at citizen participation in the political process has an emphasis on the United States but also draws examples from a few other countries. (It tends to shy away from getting explicit about tin-pot dictatorships and other authoritarian governments, rarely naming them.) Keenan writes that “this book will explain how politics works, the role you play, and how you can play that role really well,” and to some degree he is successful, as long as he confines himself to representative democracy. He covers such topics as levels of government; policy versus process; rhetoric’s expression of emotion, logic, and authority; the importance of navigating conflicts; polarization and selective perception; ideology and the tyranny of the majority; checks, balances, and activism. These are valuable and/or subtle concepts, critical to becoming involved in the next step of informed participation. If Keenan has a tendency to drone on, he also has the smarts to provide illustrative case studies and paints a pretty rosy picture of activism. He admits that politics can be messy, but critically, he fails to mention corruption, pork-barrel riders, and backroom bargaining that has little to do with representation.
Choice insights into the larger notion of politics as expressed through government, but the road is long between discerning nuggets. (glossary, sources, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)