Catalogue


Dangerous convictions : what's really wrong with the U.S. Congress /
Tom Allen.
imprint
Oxford ; New York, NY : Oxford University Press, c2013.
description
xi, 236 p.
ISBN
0199931984 (hardback), 9780199931989 (hardback)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York, NY : Oxford University Press, c2013.
isbn
0199931984 (hardback)
9780199931989 (hardback)
contents note
Machine generated contents note: -- Chapter One: Early Lessons in Congress -- Chapter Two: The Federal Budget: Faith-Based Economics -- Chapter Three: Iraq: Evidence Doesn't Matter -- Chapter Four: Health Care: Taking Care of Business -- Chapter Five: Climate Change and the Environment -- Chapter Six: The Sources of Polarization -- Chapter Seven: Finding a Path to Recovery.
abstract
"In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen, explains how beneath the surface of our political debates, the incompatible world views of the two parties have turned Congress into a dysfunctional body. "Years of listening to what seemed to me to be preposterous arguments in committee, on the House floor, or in private conversations," he writes, "changed my mind about our capacity to find bipartisan agreement on the most fundamental topics." Likewise, most Republican Members of Congress gave no credence to Democratic arguments on budget and tax issues, health care, and climate change. Allen argues that "smaller government, lower taxes" in all times and circumstances is not an economic policy, but an ideological barrier to meaningful debate and the simplest compromises. In the last thirty years, he suggests, Republicans and Democrats have been speaking different languages; GOP Members increasingly see government as a threat to personal liberty, while Democrats continue to believe it can be a vehicle to expand opportunity and serve the common good. Combining personal experience with the insights of George Lakoff, Norman Ornstein, Robert Bellah, Isaiah Berlin, and many others, Allen explains why we need to understand the ideological conflict and escape its grip--and allow Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges. "--
"The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 was clear evidence of the dangerous polarization of American politics. Heedless of the warnings of economists, a majority of Republicans in the House refused to allow the Treasury to borrow enough money to pay for spending already ordered by Congress. The government avoided a catastrophic default only by unprecedented legislative contortions. The debt ceiling fight also showed that the two parties simply don't understand each other. In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen, explains how beneath the surface of our political debates, the incompatible world views of the two parties have turned Congress into a dysfunctional body. "Years of listening to what seemed to me to be preposterous arguments in committee, on the House floor, or in private conversations," he writes, "changed my mind about our capacity to find bipartisan agreement on the most fundamental topics." Likewise, most Republican Members of Congress gave no credence to Democratic arguments on budget and tax issues, health care, and climate change. Allen argues that "smaller government, lower taxes" in all times and circumstances is not an economic policy, but an ideological barrier to meaningful debate and the simplest compromises. In the last thirty years, he suggests, Republicans and Democrats have been speaking different languages; GOP Members increasingly see government as a threat to personal liberty, while Democrats continue to believe it can be a vehicle to expand opportunity and serve the common good. Combining personal experience with the insights of George Lakoff, Norman Ornstein, Robert Bellah, Isaiah Berlin, and many others, Allen explains why we need to understand the ideological conflict and escape its grip--and allow Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges"--
catalogue key
8723933
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [221]-223) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2013-02-15:
Allen (president & CEO, Assoc. of American Publishers) draws here upon his six terms as Democratic U.S. congressman from Maine (1997-2009). He left Congress alarmed and frustrated by our two major parties' inability not simply to work together but even to comprehend each other. The idea that incivility is at the root of our problems misses the point, he says, because members are divided by a worldview that prevents real engagement with the issues. Allen's focus is on four areas: the budget and taxes; our invasion of Iraq; health care; and climate change. In each area he contrasts the pragmatism of his own party with what he calls the Republicans' calcified orthodoxy that is impervious to evidence. Democrats, he believes, have the more difficult message to deliver, one based on Americans' "second language" of community, as opposed to a Republican message based on our "first language," individualism. Our politics will remain at a stalemate, he writes, unless somehow we reconcile the two. While he ends on a hopeful note, Allen has little to offer on how we might achieve that reconciliation. VERDICT Democratic and Republican readers alike may find Allen's book repetitive and his perspective not especially new. Their own world views, as with Congress's, won't be changed by this book.-Robert -Nardini, Niagara Falls, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2013-09-01:
Former Representative Allen (D-ME) promises an intriguing book about his former colleagues and argues that "All of us--Right or Left--are potentially subject to adopting convictions that are not true ... worldviews lead us to reject evidence that conflicts with our pre-existing convictions." He points out that deeply held, contradictory, and seldom-examined convictions caused many of his colleagues to reach erroneous conclusions. Such inflexibility and misinformation led, and continues to lead, to the inability to communicate and compromise on a wide variety of issues from the budget to the Iraq War and climate change. The argument makes sense and is bolstered by many examples but loses some of its power when conservatives, much more than liberals, feel the brunt of his frustration. At times, the author seems just as hidebound as those he criticizes. To be fair, he does name names, and some of the perpetrators are Democrats, but when his fellow party members stray from Allen's perspective, they are described as "caving" or being inconsistent. An insider's behind-the-scenes stories and serious thoughts about policy, Congress as an institution, and US government in general do provide some useful insights. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduate students, graduate students, and professionals. S. E. Frantzich United States Naval Academy
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2012-10-22:
Allen, a former Democratic congressman from Maine and current president and CEO of the American Association of Publishers, offers a panoramic critique of Congress based on his 12 years in office (1997-2009), covering policy areas from the budget to health care. Since he left office four years ago, Allen says, Congress "has descended to new lows of dysfunctional partisanship and vanishing public trust." Many centrists will agree that today's Congress exhibits a frightening degree of factional bitterness. This combination of memoir and game plan will not astonish the Beltway crowd. Allen's solutions generally align with moderate factions in the Democratic Party. Allen defends Obamacare and takes a polite swipe at Paul Ryan's economic policies. His gauzy and rather naive analysis of why "polarization"-the word he returns to throughout-has occurred is less convincing that his ample reflections based on personal experience. To explain conservative "rigidity," for example, he recycles psychobabble about parenting styles and authoritarian personalities. However, Allen's pragmatism and reason help frame major issues for Americans hungering for some legislative wisdom after the election. Agent: Mel Berger, WME. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"With historically low ratings, Congress is regarded as 'dysfunctional' by Americans of all political persuasions. Why that is so, and what can be done to reduce excessive partisanship, is the subject of Tom Allen's well-informed and provocative book." -Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell "This is an extraordinarily valuable examination of the most troubling concern of our time: the inability of our leaders in Washington to find consensus and forge compromise in the public interest. Readers will discover here a deeply penetrating analysis by an author who had unique opportunities to observe from the inside the causes and consequences of our current polarization. Anyone who wants to understand why contemporary politics so often results in failure cannot afford to miss this essential book." -G. Calvin Mackenzie, Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government, Colby College
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, October 2012
Library Journal, February 2013
Choice, September 2013
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
By virtually all measures, polarization in Congress has increased dramatically over the course of the past two decades. Former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen lived through this era, serving six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Drawing from his own experiences in the Congressional trenches, he tackles the root cause of why Democrats and Republicans arrived at a point where they barely speak to each other.
Long Description
The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 was clear evidence of the dangerous polarization of American politics. Heedless of the warnings of economists, a majority of Republicans in the House refused to allow the Treasury to borrow enough money to pay for spending already ordered by Congress. The government avoided a catastrophic default only by unprecedented legislative contortions. The debt ceiling fight also showed that the two parties simply don't understand each other. In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen, explains how beneath the surface of our political debates, the incompatible world views of the two parties have turned Congress into a dysfunctional body. "Years of listening to what seemed to me to be preposterous arguments in committee, on the House floor, or in private conversations," he writes, "changed my mind about ourcapacity to find bipartisan agreement on the most fundamental topics." Likewise, most Republican Members of Congress gave no credence to Democratic arguments on budget and tax issues, health care, and climate change. Allen argues that "smaller government, lower taxes" in all times and circumstances is not aneconomic policy, but an ideological barrier to meaningful debate and the simplest compromises. In the last thirty years, he suggests, Republicans and Democrats have been speaking different languages; GOP Members increasingly see government as a threat to personal liberty, while Democrats continue to believe it can be a vehicle to expand opportunity and serve the common good. Combining personal experience with the insights of George Lakoff, Norman Ornstein, Robert Bellah, Isaiah Berlin, and many others, Allen explains why we need to understand the ideological conflict and escape its grip--and allow Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.
Main Description
The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 was clear evidence of the dangerous polarization of American politics. Heedless of the warnings of economists, a majority of Republicans in the House refused to allow the Treasury to borrow enough money to pay for spending already ordered by Congress. The government avoided a catastrophic default only by unprecedented legislative contortions. The debt ceiling fight also showed that the two parties simply don't understand each other. InDangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen, explains how beneath the surface of our political debates, the incompatible world views of the two parties have turned Congress into a dysfunctional body. "Years of listening to what seemed to me to be preposterous arguments in committee, on the House floor, or in private conversations," he writes, "changed my mind about our capacity to find bipartisan agreement on the most fundamental topics." Likewise, most Republican Members of Congress gave no credence to Democratic arguments on budget and tax issues, health care, and climate change. Allen argues that "smaller government, lower taxes" in all times and circumstances is not an economic policy, but an ideological barrier to meaningful debate and the simplest compromises. In the last thirty years, he suggests, Republicans and Democrats have been speaking different languages; GOP Members increasingly see government as a threat to personal liberty, while Democrats continue to believe it can be a vehicle to expand opportunity and serve the common good. Combining personal experience with the insights of George Lakoff, Norman Ornstein, Robert Bellah, Isaiah Berlin, and many others, Allen explains why we need to understand the ideological conflict and escape its grip--and allow Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.
Main Description
The debt-ceiling debacle of 2011 was clear evidence of the dangerous polarization of American politics. Heedless of the warnings of economists, a majority of Republicans in the House refused to allow the Treasury to borrow enough money to pay for spending already ordered by Congress. Thegovernment avoided a catastrophic default only by unprecedented legislative contortions. The debt ceiling fight also showed that the two parties simply don't understand each other. In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen, explains how beneath the surface of our political debates, the incompatible world views of the two parties have turned Congress into adysfunctional body. "Years of listening to what seemed to me to be preposterous arguments in committee, on the House floor, or in private conversations," he writes, "changed my mind about our capacity to find bipartisan agreement on the most fundamental topics." Likewise, most Republican Members of Congress gave no credence to Democratic arguments on budget and tax issues, health care, and climate change. Allen argues that "smaller government, lower taxes" in all times and circumstances is not an economic policy, but an ideological barrier to meaningfuldebate and the simplest compromises. In the last thirty years, he suggests, Republicans and Democrats have been speaking different languages; GOP Members increasingly see government as a threat to personal liberty, while Democrats continue to believe it can be a vehicle to expand opportunity andserve the common good. Combining personal experience with the insights of George Lakoff, Norman Ornstein, Robert Bellah, Isaiah Berlin, and many others, Allen explains why we need to understand the ideological conflict and escape its grip - and allow Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.
Main Description
The rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaign exposed the deeply rooted sources of political polarization in American. One side celebrated individualism and divided the public into "makers and takers;" the other preached "better together" as the path forward. Both focused their efforts on the "base" not the middle. In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen argues that what's really wrong with Congress is the widening, hardening conflict in worldviews that leaves the two parties unable to understand how the other thinks about what people should do on their own and what we should do together. Members of Congress don't just disagree, they think the other side makes no sense. Why are conservatives preoccupied with cutting taxes, uninterested in expanding health care coverage and in denial about climate change? What will it take for Congress to recover a capacity for pragmatic compromise on these issues? Allen writes that we should treat self-reliance (the quintessential American virtue) and community (our characteristic instinct to cooperate) as essential balancing components of American culture and politics, instead of setting them at war with each other. Combining his personal insights from 12 years In Congress with recent studies of how human beings form their political and religious views, Allen explains why we must escape the grip of our competing worldviews to enable Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 3
Early Lessons in Congressp. 10
The Federal Budget: Faith-Based Economicsp. 39
Iraq: Evidence Doesn't Matterp. 68
Health Care: Principle before Peoplep. 100
Climate Change: Denial as Public Policyp. 127
The Sources of Polarizationp. 155
Finding a Path to Recoveryp. 183
Notesp. 213
Bibliographyp. 221
Indexp. 224
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem