The debate over whether the American political process is broken is finished.

Author:Nichols, John
Position:Our Favorite Books of 2014 - Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War; No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State - Book review
 
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The debate over whether the American political process is broken is finished. Of course, it's broken--dysfunctional at almost every turn, and increasingly anti-democratic. Of all the books published in 2014, James Risen's Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Metropolitan Books) best detailed the current degenerations of the American experiment--particularly where they highlighted the crude collaborations between government and corporations that emerge when elections become auctions and Congress neither checks nor balances an imperial Presidency.

Zephyr Teachout's Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United (Harvard University Press) pulled all the threads together and provided both historical context and a sense of urgency with regard to the need for fundamental reform.

But how do we get from a bad here to a better there? In reading books during the course of another money-drenched year of diminished electoral prospects and scant governmental progress, I looked especially for writers who recognized that the right response to this crisis is a new politics. Like everyone else, I was dazzled by Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Simon & Schuster). I read it in Scotland, as I was covering the independence referendum, and it struck me that Klein--without even trying--had captured the remarkable combination of idealism and determination (as well as the long view) that inspired Scotland's audacious attempt at realizing the promise of self-determination. Scotland fell short of the vote total needed to become independent, but by rejecting the narrow constraints of contemporary politics, citizens forced distant leaders to pay attention, to respond, to open up dialogues about the devolution of power and about the...

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