This book analyses the most widespread criticisms of American democracy namely , that it is plebiscitary, devoid of voters, unduly favours the rich, and imperial. It shows that these criticisms fail to hit the mark. Yet even if its vices are fewer and different from what its critics often claim, American democracy cannot be read as an exemplary catalogue of virtues, as its apologists would have it. Resting on contradictions rather than coherence, American democracy cannot be seen as a model and even less as an ideology. Rather it should be understood as a method.
Clearing away the misunderstandings and prejudices that cloud contemporary debates about America, this book brings out with exceptional clarity the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the American democratic experience. In a century when no country can hope to escape from the influence of American power, it is vital to understand both.
1 – ANTI–AMERICANISM IN EUROPE.
1.2 Anti–Americanism in European Context.
1.3. America and the European Left.
1.4. America and the European Right.
1.5. America and the European Catholic Center.
1.6. Misunderstanding America.
CHAPTER 2 A PLEBISCITARY DEMOCRACY?.
2.2. The Origins of Separated Government.
2.3. Congressional Government.
2.4. The Crisis of Congressional Government.
2.5. Presidential Government.
2.6. The Difficulties of Presidential Government.
CHAPTER 3 A DEMOCRACY WITHOUT THE PEOPLE?.
3.2. The Characteristics of the Electoral System.
3.3 The Developments of the Electoral Process.
3.4. Why Americans don t vote: the debate.
3.5. Political Parties from Decline to Transformation?.
CHAPTER 4 A DEMOCRACY FOR THE RICH?.
4.2. The American Commercial Republic.
4.3. The Neo–conservative Revolution.
4.4. The Weakness of the Democrats: The Two Clinton Presidencies.
4.5. The Anti–politics of the Elites: Term Limits and Recall.
4.6. The Social Implications of American Liberalism.
CHAPTER 5 AN IMPERIAL DEMOCRACY?.
5.2. Foreign and Domestic Policy in America.
5.3. Hegemonic America and the Cold War.
5.4. The End of the Cold War and the First Gulf War.
5.5. The 1990s and the Schizophrenic Power.
5.6. George W. Bush s America and the Second Gulf War.
CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSIONS AMERICA AS A METHOD.
6.2. American Exceptionalism.
6.3 The Societal and Institutional Antinomies.
6.4. Political Change and American Antinomies.
6.5. America: a Model or a Method?.
George Breslauer, University of California, Berkeley
"This is a work of the highest intellectual level. It reflects a mastery of the fields of American politics and of West European comparative politics. The author has the distinctive ability to be a past master of both subjects while retaining a vital critical distance from each. The book is exhaustively researched and clearly presented. After reading it, no American or European will look at the American political system in quite the same way again."
Allen Lynch, University of Virginia