Dangerous Convictions; What's Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress
New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. First Printing [Stated]. Hardcover. xi, , 236 pages. Contains notes, figures, bibliography, and index. Some soiling to rear dust jacket. Thomas Hodge Allen (born April 16, 1945) is an American author and former politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives representing Maine's 1st congressional district, and the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2008 against Republican incumbent senator Susan Collins. Allen lost to Collins (61.5% to 38.5%). Allen was first elected in 1996, defeating Republican incumbent James Longley, Jr. with 55 percent of votes cast to Longley's 45 percent. Allen was re-elected five times, receiving over 55 percent of the vote each time in his district, until his defeat in his 2008 run for the U.S. Senate. After, Allen was appointed president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers and began his term on May 1, 2009. Tom Allen explains that the incompatible worldviews of the Republican and Democratic parties have turned Congress into a dysfunctional body. Republicans increasingly see government as a threat to personal liberty, while Democrats continue to believe it can be a vehicle to expand opportunity and serve the common good. The rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaign exposed the deeply rooted sources of political polarization in American. One side celebrated individualism and divided the public into "makers and takers;" the other preached "better together" as the path forward. Both focused their efforts on the "base" not the middle.
In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen argues that what's really wrong with Congress is the widening, hardening conflict in worldviews that leaves the two parties unable to understand how the other thinks about what people should do on their own and what we should do together. Members of Congress don't just disagree, they think the other side makes no sense. Why are conservatives preoccupied with cutting taxes, uninterested in expanding health care coverage and in denial about climate change? What will it take for Congress to recover a capacity for pragmatic compromise on these issues?
Allen writes that we should treat self-reliance (the quintessential American virtue) and community (our characteristic instinct to cooperate) as essential balancing components of American culture and politics, instead of setting them at war with each other. Combining his personal insights from 12 years In Congress with recent studies of how human beings form their political and religious views, Allen explains why we must escape the grip of our competing worldviews to enable Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges. Condition: Very good / Good.
Keywords: U.S. Congress, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Disfunction, Politics and Government, Economic Policy, Bipartisanship, Climate Change, Health Care