THE DEADLOCK OF DEMOCRACY by James MacGregor Burns

THE DEADLOCK OF DEMOCRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Totalitarianism presents a formidable threat to democratic states, where the diffusion of authority generally prevents national leaders from matching the Communists in the consistent pursuit of purpose. Why, in the face of this threat, are the American people even more bored with the political process? What are the reasons for the further delay and devitalization of our political system? How is it that our President, who has the vast and overwhelming support of the nation, cannot enact into legislation his foreign and domestic programs? The answers to these and other related questions are the subject of this book. Professor Burns concludes that we have been captured by the Madisonian model of government, a system of checks and balances that requires the consensus of many groups and leaders before a nation can act, while we have rejected (or neglected) the competing system of Jefferson, emphasizing strong leadership, majority rule, party responsibility, and competitive elections. The author's thesis is that the pattern of national politics is essentially a four-party pattern each of the two parties divided into congressional and presidential structures--and that the chief executive is therefore forced to manage multi-party coalitions. Because the congressional and presidential parties share to a great extent the same powers, they can block each other. This deadlock has resulted in a government unable to supply the steady leadership and power necessary for the conduct of our affairs. This admirably clear and sensible book makes the sort of elementary statement that ought to be made more often. The book may irritate some political factions, but readers will find it stimulating and illuminating.

Publisher: Prentice-Hall