Politics for People
About the BookA must for anyone angry at being shut out of the political system. David Mathews points out that many Americans, making no secret of their anger at being shut out of the political system, are looking for ways to take that system back. Because of their low opinion of "politics as usual," Mathews believes, some people are trying to create a politics relevant to their everyday lives. These efforts give us a richer understanding of political life and of a much-neglected subject: the public. In Politics for People, Mathews describes how people become politically engaged, how they build civic communities, and how they generate political energy or public will. He argues that political discussion is the doorway into politics, and he makes a case for leavening partisan debate with more public dialogue. He then explains what a democratic citizenry must do if representative government is to perform effectively, and he shows how officials might work with, and not just for, the public.
"An extraordinarily timely, topical, and useful book. Written in an accessible, popular style, it addresses the central public question of our time: How to develop a politics that works?"--Harry C. Boyte, coauthor of Citizen Action and the New American Populism
"There is a remarkable wave of innovative thought and action among social problem solvers at the grassroots today--and Politics for People is at the leading edge of that wave. It is required reading for citizens."--John W. Gardner, Miriam and Peter Haas Centennial Professor in Public Service, Stanford University
"Accessible and deeply important, Politics for People makes a vital contribution to the debate about the nature of American democracy."--Benjamin F. Barber, author of The Conquest of Politics: Liberal Philosophy in Democratic Times
"Goes several steps beyond many recent reflections on public disenchantment with traditional political behavior and with governance by politics-as-usual. David has effectively integrated a candid examination of the dilemma of inaccessible politics with practical examples of ways in which ordinary citizens can manage, influence, and even capture the future of their own communities. Politics for People makes a very valuable contribution to the literature on political participation."--Eddie N. Williams, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies