University of Michigan Press

Contemporary Political and Social Issues

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Contemporary Political and Social Issues

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America at Risk

Threats to Liberal Self-Government in an Age of Uncertainty

Robert Faulkner and Susan Shell, Editors

America at Risk gathers original essays by a distinguished and bipartisan group of writers and intellectuals to address a question that matters to Americans of every political persuasion: what are some of the greatest dangers facing America today? The answers, which range from dwindling political participation to rising poverty, and religion to empire, add up to a valuable and timely portrait of a particular moment in the history of American ideas. While the opinions are many, there is a central theme in the book: the corrosion of the liberal constitutional order that has long guided the country at home and abroad. The authors write about the demonstrably important dangers the United States faces while also breaking the usual academic boundaries: there are chapters on the family, religious polarization, immigration, and the economy, as well as on governmental and partisan issues. America at Risk is required reading for all Americans alarmed about the future of their country. Contributors • Traci Burch • James W. Ceaser • Robert Faulkner • Niall Ferguson • William A. Galston • Hugh Heclo • Pierre Manent • Harvey C. Mansfield • Peter Rodriguez • Kay Lehman Schlozman • Susan Shell • Peter Skerry • James Q. Wilson • Alan Wolfe Robert Faulkner is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Susan Shell is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. "America at Risk goes well beyond the usual diagnoses of issues debated in public life like immigration, war, and debt, to consider the Republic’s founding principles, and the ways in which they have been displaced by newer thoughts and habits in contemporary America. A critical book for understanding our present condition." —Francis Fukuyama, Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies "In this penetrating book, the nation’s finest social and political thinkers from across the spectrum take a careful and no-holds-barred look at the dangers facing the American political system. The conclusions are more unsettling than reassuring---but that is because they are honest and real." —Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute "In the midst of overwrought pundits, irate soccer moms, and outraged bloggers, it is difficult to distinguish genuine dangers from false alarms and special pleading. This book enables us to do so, in a way that helps us to actually think about, not just feel anxious about, threats to those features of American society that are worth cherishing. The authors range in ideology and expertise, but they are uniformly judicious, incisive, and informative. This is a fascinating book about issues that the political system usually ignores or exaggerates." —Jennifer L. Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

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Culture Wars and Enduring American Dilemmas

Irene Taviss Thomson

Irene Taviss Thomson gives us a nuanced portrait of American social politics that helps explain both why we are drawn to the idea of a 'culture war' and why that misrepresents what is actually going on. ---Rhys H. Williams, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Loyola University Chicago "An important work showing---beneath surface conflict---a deep consensus on a number of ideals by social elites." ---John H. Evans, Department of Sociology, University of California, San Diego The idea of a culture war, or wars, has existed in America since the 1960s---an underlying ideological schism in our country that is responsible for the polarizing debates on everything from the separation of church and state, to abortion, to gay marriage, to affirmative action. Irene Taviss Thomson explores this notion by analyzing hundreds of articles addressing hot-button issues over two decades from four magazines: National Review, Time, The New Republic, and The Nation, as well as a wide array of other writings and statements from a substantial number of public intellectuals. What Thomson finds might surprise you: based on her research, there is no single cultural divide or cultural source that can account for the positions that have been adopted. While issues such as religion, homosexuality, sexual conduct, and abortion have figured prominently in public discussion, in fact there is no single thread that unifies responses to each of these cultural dilemmas for any of the writers. Irene Taviss Thomson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, having taught in the Department of Social Sciences and History at Fairleigh Dickinson University for more than 30 years. Previously, she taught in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University.

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An Intellectual in Public

Alan Wolfe

A new collection of essays from one of the most courageous and honest thinkers writing today "The question of the public intellectual is very much in the air again," writes Alan Wolfe. As one of our eminent social commentators, Wolfe should know; he's been writing, with fierce intellectual independence, about American public and private life since the 1960s. In this new collection of essays spanning seven years of contributions to The New Republic, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and other prominent publications, Wolfe displays the courage necessary to write honestly—yet free of ideology, cant, and piety—about the things Americans take very seriously. Wolfe thinks big; indeed, the essays in An Intellectual in Public confront many of the most controversial issues of our time: country, God, race, sex, material consumption, and left and right. Beginning and ending the book are original essays describing the public intellectual's role, and how Wolfe believes that role ought to be filled. An Intellectual in Public is not only a demonstration of Wolfe's pointed analytical skills but a testament to his belief that "severely ideological thinking" is inappropriate for some of our most difficult problems, and that "neither the right nor the left can speak for all of America." Alan Wolfe is the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life and also Professor of Political Science at Boston College. He is the author of over a dozen books, including One Nation After All: What Middle Class Americans Really Think About: God, Country, Family, Racism, Welfare, Immigration, Homosexuality, Work, the Right, the Left and Each Other.

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The New Imperial Presidency

Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate

Andrew Rudalevige

Has the imperial presidency returned? "Well written and, while indispensable for college courses, should appeal beyond academic audiences to anyone interested in how well we govern ourselves. . . . I cannot help regarding it as a grand sequel for my own The Imperial Presidency." ---Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Has the imperial presidency returned? This question has been on the minds of many contemporary political observers, as recent American administrations have aimed to consolidate power. In The New Imperial Presidency, Andrew Rudalevige suggests that the congressional framework meant to advise and constrain presidential conduct since Watergate has slowly eroded. Rudalevige describes the evolution of executive power in our separated system of governance. He discusses the abuse of power that prompted what he calls the "resurgence regime" against the imperial presidency and inquires as to how and why---over the three decades that followed Watergate---presidents have regained their standing. Chief executives have always sought to interpret constitutional powers broadly. The ambitious president can choose from an array of strategies for pushing against congressional authority; finding scant resistance, he will attempt to expand executive control. Rudalevige's important and timely work reminds us that the freedoms secured by our system of checks and balances do not proceed automatically but depend on the exertions of public servants and the citizens they serve. His story confirms the importance of the "living Constitution," a tradition of historical experiences overlaying the text of the Constitution itself.

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Putting Faith in Partnerships

Welfare-to-Work in Four Cities

Stephen V. Monsma

Putting Faith in Partnerships addresses a major conceptual change in American domestic policy, begun by Reagan and now fully realized by the Bush administration: the shift of responsibility for social services from the federal government to states and communities. In this groundbreaking study of a politically controversial topic---the debut offering in Alan Wolfe's Contemporary Political and Social Issues series---author Stephen Monsma avoids overheated rhetoric in favor of a careful, critical analysis of the hard evidence on whether public-private partnerships really work. The book is based on in-depth studies of social service programs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas. By examining public-private partnerships between government offices and nonprofit organizations, Monsma seeks to understand how these partnerships affect the balance between government's efforts to deal with social problems and the rights of individual citizens to control their own lives. Putting Faith in Partnerships answers many previously unanswered questions in what may be the most controversial public policy debate today: about the feasibility and wisdom of government agencies forming partnerships with private organizations to provide essential public social services. Stephen V. Monsma is Professor of Political Science at Pepperdine University. He has served as director of the Office of Quality Review in Michigan's Department of Social Services and is a widely recognized expert on the role of faith-based organizations in social service programs.

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Self-Financed Candidates in Congressional Elections

Jennifer A. Steen

Are our elections for sale? Americans have long asked this question in the face of skyrocketing campaign spending by candidates and parties. Then, in the 1990s, came a wave of wealthy individuals whose deep pockets seemed to be buying political offices across the country. Our worst suspicions were confirmed. Or were they? What effect do self-financers really have on electoral outcomes? Jennifer Steen's authoritative empirical study of self-financed candidates is a landmark in American politics. Steen thoroughly dispels the notion that self-funded candidates can buy legislative seats, proving that the vast majority of self-financers do not win their elections. Her book gives us a truer understanding of self-financers' actual influence on campaign competition and rhetoric. Jennifer A. Steen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston College and a former political consultant. She is one of the nation's leading authorities on self-financed candidates.

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Trust beyond Borders

Immigration, the Welfare State, and Identity in Modern Societies

Markus M.L. Crepaz

Will immigration undermine the welfare state? Trust beyond Borders draws on public opinion data and case studies of Germany, Sweden, and the United States to document the influence of immigration and diversity on trust, reciprocity, and public support for welfare programs. Markus M. L. Crepaz demonstrates that we are, at least in some cases, capable of trusting beyond borders: of expressing faith in our fellow humans and extending help without regard for political classifications. In Europe, the welfare state developed under conditions of relative homogeneity that fostered high levels of trust among citizens, while in America anxiety about immigration and diversity predated the emergence of a social safety net. Looking at our new era of global migration, Crepaz traces the renewed debate about "us" versus "them" on both sides of the Atlantic and asks how it will affect the public commitment to social welfare. Drawing on the literatures on immigration, identity, social trust, and the welfare state, Trust beyond Borders presents a novel analysis of immigration's challenge to the welfare state and a persuasive exploration of the policies that may yet preserve it. "Crepaz contributes much to our knowledge about the link between immigration and social welfare, certainly one of the central issues in current national and international politics." ---Stuart Soroka, Associate Professor of Political Science and William Dawson Scholar, McGill University "Finally! A book that challenges the growing view that ethnic diversity is the enemy of social solidarity. It addresses an issue of intense debate in Western nations; it takes dead aim at the theoretical issues at the center of the controversy; it deploys an impressive array of empirical evidence; and its conclusions represent a powerful corrective to the current drift of opinion. Trust beyond Borders will rank among the very best books in the field." ---Keith Banting, Queen's Research Chair in Public Policy, Queen's University "Do mass immigration and ethnic diversity threaten popular support for the welfare state? Trust beyond Borders answers no. Marshaling an impressive array of comparative opinion data, Crepaz shows that countries with high levels of social trust and universal welfare state arrangements can avoid the development of the welfare chauvinism that typically accompanies diversity." ---Gary Freeman, Professor and Department Chair, Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin Markus M. L. Crepaz is Professor in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Global Issues (GLOBIS).

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