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Published on Apr 19, 2011
In "KABUKI DEMOCRACY", Eric Alterman argues that while the Obama presidency has undoubtedly been a disappointment from a progressive point of view, its failures aren't due to a collapse of his political imagination, or to strategic errors during his first year of governance. Rather, the political system suffers from a series of structural bottlenecks that encourage transformative change while standing in the way of its progressive counterpart.
Expanding on this thesis, KABUKI DEMOCRACY: The System v. Barack Obama deconstructs all aspects of the political system—from lobbying to the Supreme Court to the failure of the press to the prominence of anti- government ideology—to reveal how structural impediments have blocked Obama from carrying out his democratic mandate. Alterman offers a clear game plan for potential change, expounding on his belief that "with regard to almost every single one of our problems, we need better, smarter organizing at every level and a willingness on the part of liberals and leftists to work with what remains of the center to begin the process of reforms that are a beginning, rather than an endpoint in the process of societal transformation."
Blending incisive political analysis with a clear agenda for change, KABUKI DEMOCRACY cuts through the false promise offered by the transformative politics of hope, arguing that real reform will only come when accompanied by resurgent civic engagement.
Eric Alterman is an American historian, journalist, author, media critic, blogger, and educator. His political weblog named Altercation was hosted by MSNBC.com from 2002 until 2006, moved to Media Matters for America until December 2008, and is now hosted by The Nation. He earned a B.A. in History and Government from Cornell University, an M.A. in International Relations from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in U.S. History from Stanford University.