The Great Game of Politics: Why We Elect, Whom We Elect

4 Star, Politics

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Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Germ of an Interesting Idea, From Left to Right & Back Again,

February 15, 2004
Dick Stoken
This is one of those books that caught my eye in a casual browse through the bookstore, where I buy perhaps 10% of my books. It has a germ of a good idea and is worth the price of the book for that alone–the book can be absorbed in a day or rapidly scanned in an hour.The core idea is that America swings from left to right and back again–from a pro-business risk-taking conservative right position to a pro-people risk-reducing social concern left position.

The author, who is evidently a very well-respected businessman and trader who is skilled at seeing business cycles, applies his skill to politics. Of the 43 presidents America has had to date, he identifies nine that were “paradigm movers”: George Washington (Federalists), Jefferson (Jeffersonian Democracy), Madison (New Nationalism), Jackson (New Democrats) Lincoln-McKinley (Transition), Roosevelt (New Progressives), Harding (New Era) and Reagan (New Economy).

I view the book somewhat skeptically. It is certainly worthwhile, and I do not regret buying it nor absorbing the “nine political paradigms” that the author puts forward, but on balance I find it somewhat simplistic and out of touch with today's realities. Indeed, as an admirer of all that Dr. Paul Ray has written (he is co-author of The Cultural Creatives), I would sum up my modest criticism of this book by saying that America, if it is to survive, must be neither left nor right, but in front–as Dr. Ray labels them, “the new progressives.” The two mainstream political parties have lost touch with reality and become much too subordinated to political campaign contributions and lobbyists, and hence, if there is a tenth paradigm that will emerge–and I credit this book with framing the question very well–then it will be one that emulates the Internet and creates a political system that restores ethics to both the left and the right, restores the individual to primacy in the democracy, and reintegrates government, business, and citizen associations including unions as equal respectful partners rather than constant antagonists.

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