American democracy is facing a crisis as fraught as we've seen in decades. Donald Trump's presidency has raised the specter of authoritarian rule. Extreme polarization and the scorched-earth war between the parties drags on with no end in sight.
At the heart of this dangerous moment is a paradox: It took a figure as uniquely menacing as Trump to rivet the nation's attention on the fragility of our democracy. Yet the causes of our dysfunction are long-running—they predate Trump, helped facilitate his rise, and, distressingly, will outlast his presidency.
In An Uncivil War, Greg Sargent sounds an urgent alarm about the deeper roots of our democratic backsliding—and how we can begin to turn things around. Drawing upon years of research and reporting, he exposes the unparalleled sophistication and ambition of GOP tactics, including computer-generated gerrymandering, underhanded voter suppression, and ever-escalating legislative hardball. We are also plagued by other brutal, seemingly intractable problems such as dismal turnout and powerful, built-in temptations to tilt the political playing field with unscrupulous partisan trickery. All of this has been accompanied by foreign-government intervention and an unprecedented level of political disinformation that threatens to undermine the very possibility of shared agreement on facts and poses profound new challenges to the media's ability to inform the citizenry. Yet the Republican Party is only part of the problem. As Sargent provocatively reveals, Democrats share culpability for helping to accelerate this slide.
But our plight is far from hopeless. In an account that includes numerous interviews with political operatives and strategists in both parties, political scientists and historians, An Uncivil War proposes practical ways of shoring up our democracy—a series of guiding objectives that large-D and small-d democrats alike must treat as eminently attainable. It is a handbook for restoring fair play to our politics at a moment when the stakes could not be higher.
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