An insightful study of American democracy that examines the shifting political and cultural tides since the 1960s and offers a blueprint for change.
In this time of polarized politics, debut author Lemberg has accomplished a coup: By presenting a critical but fair evaluation of American society—from evangelicals to liberals—he’s produced a book that may appeal to both sides of the political divide. Punctuated with well-placed quotations from journalists, such as moderate conservative David Brooks and Time Editor-at-Large Fareed Zakaria, not to mention a raft of song lyrics from Bob Dylan and others, this work sets out to explain how American democracy has become dangerously compromised by mass-culture alienation, political paralysis and greed. Notwithstanding early blanket assumptions about spiritual evangelicals and secular liberals (later expanded on and clarified), Lemberg earns credibility from his dissection of our current dystopia into what he considers the three core ideas of the modern worldview: secular materialism, extreme individualism and free market ideology. These philosophies provide the book’s framework, and the history of how they arose from and distorted the Enlightenment’s elevation of rational thought is well-supported by research and cited data. Certain statistics are alarming: “Since the election of Ronald Reagan, over 80 percent of all our enormous growth went to the least needy 1 percent,” leaving us with an economy that is, in essence, an oligopoly. Just as disconcerting are warnings from Abraham Lincoln, James Madison and Adam Smith, who foresaw the potential for the very mess we’re now in. Despite concluding that a lack of political will and an inactive citizenship have left the nation weakened and vulnerable to despotism, Lemberg offers hope in the form of an optimistic yet achievable course of action that requires enlightened thinking from both sides of the American political spectrum and, perhaps most important, a return to both local and national community.
Challenging, informative, dire and yet, in the end, hopeful; this book will open minds—and very likely change a few of them.