Democracy Unchained: How to Rebuild Government for the People
Media track record This book collects newly commissioned essays by some of America’s leading, big-name progressive thought-leaders, many of whom are seasoned media veterans, on the leading issues of American democracy. The editors of this book have published major works that have received strong attention in the mainstream media, both print and visual, like MSNBC, CNN, NPR, New York Times, Good Morning America and PBS.
Platform David Orr will be building a companion website to accompany the book. It will feature original essays, debates, as well as information about the many public events linked to the book. Orr is a renowned as an environmental thinker–he created the Green Campus movement–and can speak to the issues of ecology and governance. Contributors will take part in public events and promote over social media.
Speaking The release of this book will be accompanied by major public events all across the country, involving the contributors, who will be debating and discussing the issues that the book deals with: how we do we repair American democracy?
Opportunities The book will be publishing into the election year, at a time when Democratic candidates, as well as their policy staff, will be engaged in debating and exploring the issues that this book discusses.
Affiliations Oberlin College, Rockefeller Brothers, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Rocky Mountain Institute.
Praise for Democracy Unchained
“Cogent. . . . Wide-ranging. . . . Penetrating analyses of the nation’s ills.”
“This remarkable book is like speed dialing the smartest minds in America, and getting them to tackle the country’s toughest problems. It’s full of fresh and urgently needed ideas.”
—Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent, The New Yorker
“This courageous book is a timely treatment of our crisis of democracy! The variety of powerful voices and cogency of analytical viewpoints are badly needed in these grim neo-fascist times!”
—Cornel West, Harvard University
“Where do we go from here? In Democracy Unchained some of the country’s best minds tackle this most urgent of questions. The result is a must-read for anyone interested in–or worried about–the future of our Republic.”
—Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer, The New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Sixth Extinction
“A peerless, one-stop compendium that explains with welcome clarity why American democracy is in such peril–and what we must do to repair and reinvent it before it is too late. Read this book, share it, and act on its authors’ wise counsel. The stakes could not be higher.”
—Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
“This collection of essays by preeminent Americans from a wide array of backgrounds and professions may someday be recognized as the twenty-first-century equivalent of the Federalist Papers. Certainly the times are no less perilous than when Hamilton, Madison, and Jay set their pens to paper.”
—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Our Wild Calling
“Democracy Unchained is an extraordinary compilation of essays on the parlous state of democracy in our country. Irrespective of whether you may disagree with some essays, every voting citizen should make the effort to read them all as they will stimulate serious thinking and make us better stewards of our democracy.”
—Theodore Roosevelt IV, managing director and chairman, Barclays Clean Tech Initiative
“The looming climate catastrophe requires that we disenthrall ourselves from the constructs and assumptions of the past. Democracy Unchained presents an urgent opportunity to think anew, and to engage Americans from every part of America.”
—Tim Wirth, former U.S. senator from Colorado; president emeritus, United Nations Foundation
David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Emeritus, at Oberlin College.
Andrew Gumbel is a British-born journalist, based in Los Angeles, who has won awards for his work as an investigative reporter, a political columnist, and a feature writer. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian and the author of Down for the Count and Won’t Lose This Dream (both from The New Press). He is also the author of Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed, and Why It Still Matters.
Bakari Kitwana is a journalist and activist in the area of hip-hop and black youth political engagement.
William Becker is executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project.
The presidential election of 2016 highlighted some long-standing flaws in American democracy and added a few new ones. Across the political spectrum, most Americans do not believe that democracy is delivering on its promises of fairness, justice, shared prosperity, or security in a changing world. The nation cannot even begin to address climate change and economic justice if it remains paralyzed by political gridlock.
Democracy Unchained is about making American democracy work to solve problems that have long impaired our system of governance. The book is the collective work of thirty of the most perceptive writers, practitioners, scientists, educators, and journalists writing today, who are committed to moving the political conversation from the present anger and angst to the positive and constructive change necessary to achieve the full promise of a durable democracy that works for everyone and protects our common future. Including essays by Yasha Mounk on populism, Chisun Lee on money and politics, Ras Baraka on building democracy from the ground up, and Bill McKibben on climate, Democracy Unchained is the articulation of faith in democracy and will be required reading for all who are working to make democracy a reality.
Table of Contents
David W. Orr
Part I. The Crisis of Democracy
Populism and Democracy
Reconstructing Our Constitutional Democracy
K. Sabeel Rahman
Restoring Healthy Party Competition
Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
When Democracy Becomes Something Else: The Problem of Elections and What to Do About It
The Best Answer to Money in Politics After Citizens United: Public Campaign Financing in the Empire State and Beyond
Remaking the Presidency After Trump
The Problem of Presidentialism
Part II. Foundations of Democracy
Renewing the American Democratic Faith
Steven C. Rockefeller
American Land, American Democracy
Race and Democracy: The Kennedys, Obama, Trump, and Us
Michael Eric Dyson
Liberty and Justice for All: Latina Activist Efforts to Strengthen Democracy in 2018
What Black Women Teach Us About Democracy
Andra Gillespie and Nadia E. Brown
Engines of Democracy: Racial Justice and Cultural Power
Civic and Environmental Education: Protecting the Planet and Our Democracy
The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis and Constitutional Democracy’s Future
Part III. Policy Challenges
Can Democracy Survive the Internet?
The New New Deal: How to Reregulate Capitalism
First Understand Why They’re Winning: How to Save Democracy from the Anti-Immigrant
No Time Left: How the System Is Failing to Address Our Ultimate Crisis
Powering Democracy Through Clean Energy
Denise G. Fairchild
The Long Crisis: American Foreign Policy Before and After Trump
Jessica Tuchman Mathews
Part IV. Who Acts, and How?
The Case for Strong Government
William S. Becker
Democracy in a Struggling Swing State
Can Independent Voters Save American Democracy? Why 42 Percent of American Voters Are Independent and How They Can Transform Our Political System
Jaqueline Salit and Thom Reilly
Philanthropy and Democracy
Stephen B. Heintz
Keeping the Republic
The Future of Democracy
Mayor Ras Baraka
Building a University Where All People Matter
Michael M. Crow, William B. Dabars, and Derrick M. Anderson
Biophilia and Direct Democracy
Restoring Democracy: Nature’s Trust, Human Survival, and Constitutional Fiduciary Governance 397
Mary Christina Wood
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