I think the current polarization of the American electorate is just a false dichotomy. I have many friends who vote way different than me, but we still can agree on basics. Who is NOT for family values, for instance? Nobody. Who wants the U.S. to keep getting deeper and deeper in debt. Nobody. I would call myself a liberal Democrat, but I am a big fan of Christy Todd Whitman, Olymipa Snowe, and the Govenator.
Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam have put together a book that irritates conservatives and liberals alike. But it is just packed with great ideas. The first half of the book is an analysis of 20th century politics starting with the New Deal and continuing through 2006. I found it very believable and illuminating. Their central contention is the working class in America are the real drivers of politics. As the political parties embrace the needs of the working class, they succeed. As they turn away, they fail. Former Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty, coined the term "Sam's Club Voters" for this bloc.
The second half of the book are the two authors ideas about how the Republican Party can regain the trust and votes of the Sam's Club voters. I don't accept all their ideas, but here's the deal: if I don't, what would I put in their place? This is the whole point of reasoned, civil discourse among people. If you disagree with someone, you have to articulate a better idea and be willing to defend it, without resorting to demagoguery (e.g not Rush Limbaugh, not Keith Obermann).
Besides a lot of very thought provoking ideas, this book is also crammed with names and sources to go look up. If you are a political junky, you have a wealth of material here. I think this book could easily form the basis of a one or two semester course.
I plan to read this several more times. It is the best set of ideas about the future that I've seen in a long time.
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