Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working

Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working

Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working

Government's End: Why Washington Stopped Working


An earlier edition of this extraordinarily prescient, elegantly written book created a sensation among Washington and media insiders when it was published more than five years ago under the title Demosclerosis. In it, Jonathan Rauch, a former correspondent for The Economist and a columnist for Notional Journal, showed with startling clarity the reasons why America's political system (and, in fact, other political systems as well) was becoming increasingly ineffective. Today, as Rauch's predictions continue to manifest themselves in a national politics of "sound and fury" and little effective legislation, and in increasing voter cynicism, this book has achieved renown as the classic and essential work on why politics and government don't work.

In Government's End, Rauch has completely rewritten and updated his earlier work to reassess his theory, analyze the political stalemate of the last few years, and explain why sweeping reform efforts of the kind led by Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and NewtGingrich aren't the answers. He also looks ahead at what is likely to happen -- or not happen -- next, and proposes ideas for what we must do to fix the system.

For anyone who cares about the health of American democracy -- and indeed of international security -- Government's End is a fascinating, disturbing, and vitally important book.


The Trap

Between the time when the results became clear and the moment when the new president-elect emerged to acknowledge his victory, two long hours passed. a crowd of fifty thousand stood waiting for their man in front of the Old State House in Little Rock, Arkansas, shivering in bitterly cold weather that, being unseasonable, caught people in their shirtsleeves. Millions of citizens elsewhere waited, too. Younger people could barely remember a Democratic presidency and wondered how the first Democratic president-elect in sixteen years would sound. Their elders wondered whether the new man would show that he had learned from his Democratic predecessors' mistakes.

At 11:22 P.M. central time, on November 3, 1992, Bill Clinton finally emerged, looking exhausted but happy. He had made history, and he knew it. His speech was short and began with thankyous for the crowd, the family, the voters, the running mate. Then came what was, in effect, the first substantive statement of the Clinton years. He announced that he would "face problems too long ignored," and that people needed to be brought together "so that our diversity can be a source of strength." Then he said: "I think perhaps the most important thing that we understand here in the heartland of Arkansas is the need to reform the political system, to reduce the influence of special interests . . .

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