American politics, then and now and other essays by James Q. Wilson

By James Q. Wilson

James Q. Wilson is one in every of America's preeminent public coverage students. for many years, he has analyzed the altering political and cultural panorama with readability and honesty, bringing his knowledge to undergo on all aspects of yankee govt and society. this can be a number of fifteen of Wilson's so much insightful essays-drawing on thirty years of his observations on faith, crime, the media, terrorism and extremism, and the old fashioned proposal of "character." Readers of each political persuasion will come clear of this quantity with a brand new figuring out of ways American politics and tradition have developed over the past half-century. those essays usually are not "the grumpy phrases of a conservative who cannot be reconciled to the realities of up to date American life," Wilson writes. really, they're immediately speak from a painstaking empiricist and consummate social scientist who believes in American exceptionalism. American Politics, Then & now could be a compelling portrait of a cherished kingdom.

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AMERICAN POLITICS, THEN & NOW 15 These divisions of opinion contribute powerfully to the kind of oneissue politics so characteristic of the present era. Abortion, gun control, gay rights, nuclear energy, affirmative action—all these issues and more make life miserable for the traditional, coalition-seeking politician. Weakened institutions, individualized politics, and the rise of an educated, idea-oriented public combine to make it highly advantageous for political entrepreneurs to identify and mobilize single-issue constituencies and to enlist them, not only into electoral and legislative politics, but into court suits, referendum campaigns, and even calls for constitutional conventions.

For about a quarter of a century, historians and others drew one lesson from the experience of Munich and Pearl Harbor: unchecked aggression breeds further aggression. ” “POLICY INTELLECTUALS” AND PUBLIC POLICY 23 The most important source of intellectual influence on public policy, however, arises not out of the way in which particular problems are defined, but out of the definition of what constitutes a problem and what standards ought to be used in judging its problematic character. The two most powerful and enduring ideas in American political culture are so deeply shared that we are unaware of how pervasive they are—except, perhaps, when we visit other nations that have been shaped by quite different ideas.

Schorr, for example, argued that the negative income tax was unworkable because it did not resolve the conflict between a strong work incentive and an adequate payment to the needy. Schorr proposed instead a system of children’s allowances and improved social security coverage, but he did not dissent from the view that the only thing wrong with poor people was that they did not have enough money and the conviction that they had a “right” to enough. Tobin was quick to point out that he and Schorr were on the same side, differing only in minor details.

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