Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable

S. & S. May 2018. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9781451606225. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781451606249. POL SCI
President Donald Trump's divisive rhetoric and unorthodox governing style has highlighted a rift in the American electorate which existed long before he came into office. In the past, this rift was largely papered over by candidates who rose above (Barack Obama) or stayed below it (Bill Clinton). Trump, however, has made this division his raison d'êtr. How did we get to this point? How can a populace so divided and with such contrastive ideas about the function of government keep together? Schneider (policy, government & international affairs, George Mason Univ.; with Seymour Martin Lipset, The Confidence Gap) investigates this question, and mostly offers a recounting of national political trends over the past 50 years, describing why some politicians have succeeded and others have failed. As a longtime political reporter and analyst, Schneider has had a front seat in the political theater and presents unique insights.
VERDICT While compelling, this book is slow to tie its various threads together and answer the central question. Overall useful and important, even if it does not quite close in on a clear conclusion. [See Prepub Alert, 12/4/17.]

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