It’s that time of year again: cooler weather, fall leaves, and more campaign ads than you can handle! No matter who you vote for, its important to cast a vote next Tuesday and let your voice be heard. But if you’re still looking for a little inspiration (not of the mudslinging variety), you’ll find a few titles below that might help:
The Dilemmas of American Conservatism
edited by Kenneth L. Deutsch & Ethan Fishman
In the second half of the twentieth century, American conservatism emerged from the shadow of New Deal liberalism and developed into a movement exerting considerable influence on the formulation and execution of public policy in the United States. During that period, the political philosophers who provided the intellectual foundations for the American conservative movement were John H. Hallowell, Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet, John Courtney Murray, Friedrich Hayek, and Willmoore Kendall.
By offering a comprehensive analysis of their thoughts and beliefs, The Dilemmas of American Conservatism both illuminates the American conservative imagination and reveals its most serious contradictions. The contributing authors question whether a core set of conservative principles can be determined based on the frequently diverging perspectives of these key philosophers.
Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture, updated edition
edited by Joseph J. Foy
Americans are turning to popular culture to make sense of the American political system, a trend that explains the success of television shows such as The Simpsons, The West Wing, The Daily Show, and Chapelle’s Show and films such as Election, Bulworth, and Wag the Dog. In Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture, Joseph J. Foy has assembled a multidisciplinary team of scholars with backgrounds in political science, philosophy, law, cultural studies, and music. The essays tackle common assumptions about government and explain fundamental concepts such as civil rights, democracy, and ethics. Homer Simpson Goes to Washington will appeal to students of American politics and to readers with an interest in current events or popular culture.
Congressional Ambivalence: The Political Burdens of Constitutional Authority
by Jasmine Farrier
Is the United States Congress dead, alive, or trapped in a moribund cycle? When confronted with controversial policy issues, members of Congress struggle to satisfy conflicting legislative, representative, and oversight duties. These competing goals, along with the pressure to satisfy local constituents, cause members of Congress to routinely cede power on a variety of policies, express regret over their loss of control, and later return to the habit of delegating their power. This pattern of institutional ambivalence undermines conventional wisdom about congressional party resurgence, the power of oversight, and the return of the so-called imperial presidency.
In Congressional Ambivalence, Jasmine Farrier examines Congress’s frequent delegation of power by analyzing primary source materials such as bills, committee reports, and the Congressional Record. Farrier demonstrates that Congress is caught between abdication and ambition and that this ambivalence affects numerous facets of the legislative process.
Explaining specific instances of post-delegation disorder, including Congress’s use of new bills, obstruction, public criticism, and oversight to salvage its lost power, Farrier exposes the tensions surrounding Congress’s roles in recent hot-button issues such as base-closing commissions, presidential trade promotion authority, and responses to the attacks of September 11. She also examines shifting public rhetoric used by members of Congress as they emphasize, in institutionally self-conscious terms, the difficulties of balancing their multiple roles. With a deep understanding of the inner workings of the federal government, Farrier illuminates a developing trend in the practice of democracy.
King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership
by Arnold M. Ludwig
King of the Mountain presents the startling findings of Arnold M. Ludwig’s eighteen-year investigation into why people want to rule. The answer may seem obvious—power, privilege, and perks—but any adequate answer also needs to explain why so many rulers cling to power even when they are miserable, trust nobody, feel besieged, and face almost certain death. Ludwig’s results suggest that leaders of nations tend to act remarkably like monkeys and apes in the way they come to power, govern, and rule.
Profiling every ruler of a recognized country in the twentieth century—over 1,900 people in all, Ludwig establishes how rulers came to power, how they lost power, the dangers they faced, and the odds of their being assassinated, committing suicide, or dying a natural death. Then, concentrating on a smaller sub-set of 377 rulers for whom more extensive personal information was available, he compares six different kinds of leaders, examining their characteristics, their childhoods, and their mental stability or instability to identify the main predictors of later political success. Ludwig’s penetrating observations, though presented in a lighthearted and entertaining way, offer important insight into why humans have engaged in war throughout recorded history as well as suggesting how they might live together in peace.
Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right
by Sean P. Cunningham
During the 1960s and 1970s, Texas was rocked by a series of political transitions. Despite its century-long heritage of solidly Democratic politics, the state became a Republican stronghold virtually overnight, and by 1980 it was known as “Reagan Country.” Ultimately, Republicans dominated the Texas political landscape, holding all twenty-seven of its elected offices and carrying former governor George W. Bush to his second term as president with more than 61 percent of the Texas vote.
Sean P. Cunningham examines the remarkable history of Republican Texas in Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right. Utilizing extensive research drawn from the archives of four presidential libraries, gubernatorial papers, local campaign offices, and oral histories, Cunningham presents a compelling narrative of the most notable regional genesis of modern conservatism.
Spanning the decades from Kennedy’s assassination to Reagan’s presidency, Cunningham reveals a vivid portrait of modern conservatism in one of the nation’s largest and most politically powerful states. Cowboy Conservatism demonstrates Texas’s distinctive and vital contributions to the transformation of postwar American politics.
Check out additional Political Science titles below:
The Enduring Reagan
edited by Charles W. Dunn
A former Sunday school teacher and Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan was an unlikely candidate for president. His charisma, conviction, and leadership earned him the governorship of California, from which he launched his successful bid to become the fortieth president of the United States in 1980. Reagan’s political legacy continues to be the standard by which all conservatives are judged. In The Enduring Reagan, editor Charles W. Dunn brings together eight prominent scholars to examine the political career and legacy of Ronald Reagan. This anthology offers a bold reassessment of the Reagan years and the impact they had on the United States and the world.
Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture
edited by Timothy M. Dale & Joseph J. Foy
Homer Simpson Marches on Washington explores the transformative power that enables popular culture to influence political agendas, frame the consciousness of audiences, and create profound shifts in values and ideals. To investigate the full spectrum of popular culture in a democratic society, editors Timothy M. Dale and Joseph J. Foy gather a top-notch team of scholars who use television shows such as Star Trek, The X-Files, All in the Family, The View, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report, as well as movies and popular music, to investigate contemporary issues in American popular culture.
Blood in the Sand: Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy
by Stephen Eric Bronner
Blood in the Sand is Stephen Eric Bronner’s powerful critique of the current state of American foreign and domestic policy, ranging from the government’s initial response to 9/11 and the assault on Afghanistan through the Iraqi War and the ramifications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bronner, who just months before the war began spent time in Iraq as part of a peace delegation, examines the state of twenty-first century America, a nation in which security against future terrorist attacks has become an obsession, “moral values” have turned into a slogan, and belief in the right to engage in a preemptive strike has come to define foreign policy.
You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: Women, Politics, and Popular Culture
edited by Lilly J. Goren
No matter what brand of feminism one may subscribe to, one thing is indisputable: the role of women in society during the past several decades has changed dramatically, and continues to change in a variety of ways. With Hillary Clinton’s recent bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, and with Sarah Palin’s selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee, it is more apparent than ever that women are attaining a new political and cultural prominence. You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby explores the past, present, and future of women in the realms of politics, the arts, and popular culture.
In Defense of the Bush Doctrine
by Robert G. Kaufman
In Defense of the Bush Doctrine offers a vigorous argument for the principles of moral democratic realism that inspired the Bush administration’s policy of regime change in Iraq. Kaufman connects the Bush Doctrine and current issues in American foreign policy to the deeper tradition of American diplomacy, drawing from positive lessons as well as cautionary tales from the past. In Defense of the Bush Doctrine provides both scholars and lay readers a broader historical context for the post-September 11 American foreign policy that will transform world politics well into the future.
Clark Clifford: Wise Man of Washington
by John Acacia
One of the most renowned Washington insiders of the twentieth century, Clark Clifford (1906-1998) was a top advisor to four Democratic presidents. As a powerful corporate attorney, he advised Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. As special counsel to Truman, Clifford helped to articulate the Truman Doctrine, grant recognition to Israel, create the Marshall Plan, and build the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In Clark Clifford: The Wise Man of Washington, John Acacia chronicles Clifford’s rise from midwestern lawyer to Washington power broker and presidential confidant. He covers the breadth and span of Clifford’s involvement in numerous pivotal moments of American history, providing a window to the inner workings of the executive office. Drawing from a wealth of sources, the author reveals Clifford’s role as one of the most trusted advisors in American history and as a primary architect of cold war foreign policy.