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Bad for Democracy


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Table of Contents

Introduction: The People v. Presidentialism, 1. How the President Becomes a Superhero, 2. Voting and the Incredibly Shrinking Citizen, 3. Presidential War Powers and Politics as War, 4. Going Corporate with the Unitary Executive Conclusion: Reclaiming Democratic Power for Ourselves, Acknowledgments, Bibliography, Index

About the Author

Dana D. Nelson is a professor of English and American studies at Vanderbilt University, where she teaches classes in U.S. literature and history, and courses that connect activism, volunteering, and citizenship. She has published numerous books and essays on U.S. literature and the history of citizenship and democratic culture. She lives in Nashville and is involved locally with a program that helps incarcerated women develop strong decision-making skills and with an innovative activist group fighting homelessness in the area.


"At a time when 'leadership' is deemed the cure for every ill--from decreasing corporate profits to increasing civic dysfunction--Dana Nelson tells us this remedy is more snake oil than good medicine. Bad For Democracy is the much-needed reminder that self-government is a do-it-yourself endeavor, and Nelson sets a standard for civic life that was promised in the country's founding, but never achieved. This book comes at exactly the right moment." --Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart
"Dana Nelson argues provocatively--and persuasively--that the mythological status accorded the presidency is drowning our democracy. The remedy will not come from Washington. It starts with people rediscovering--then reclaiming--their birthright as active citizens, restoring meaning to the sacred idea of self-government." --William Greider of The Nation magazine, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
"If democratic practice is going to flourish in the United States, the American people are going to have to roll up their sleeves and take on the hard work of self-governance. Dana Nelson offers an astute historical analysis of how the presidency, far from advancing this goal, has actually impeded it. Highly recommended." --David Bollier, author of Silent Theft and Brand Name Bullies

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