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December 11 , 2009

The State of Our Disunion

The Obama Years


The US Constitution resists centralizing authority by granting equal power to the three branches of government, as well as the individual states. The risk inherent in the separation of powers is that the absence of a spirit of compromise can lead to the disintegration of the union. Eugene Goodheart argues that the current union is in peril due to an unwillingness to cooperate on the part of contending parties. He explains how and why it has reached this point, while identifying common ground between thoughtful liberals and conservatives.

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Ironically, President Barack Obama, who from the outset affirmed the spirit of compromise and union, has governed in a time marked by apparently irreconcilable conflict between and within parties, and the branches of the government. Those on the extremes of the political spectrum view compromise as weakness and a lack of conviction, while those in the middle view it as necessary. Goodheart argues that principle and compromise are not antagonists. He also describes the media’s role in shaping and distorting public perception of political realities.

Many themes that preoccupy our politics and will doubtless continue to do so in the future are addressed in this work, including gross income inequality, governmental regulation of the market, the US’s role as superpower, and the relationship between liberty and equality. This book will be of interest to those concerned about contemporary political life.

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