Walking Around Blind Without a Cane

“Democracy” in America

Declarations that the United States has fallen into conditions resembling a “civil war” have become hackneyed and cliched. That such an extreme condemnation of American culture and politics can transform into a bromide demonstrates how deeply institutional and social dysfunction trouble the world’s wealthiest country. Even more disturbing are those surveyors of politics and history who persuasively argue that, in many ways legally and culturally significant, the Confederacy has triumphed long after Gettysburg. An entire literature has emerged to accompany the flatulent rise of Donald Trump, and the radical right wing in American politics. Heather Cox Richardson, historian at Boston College, details the tragic state of affairs in her book, featuring a title that functions as a thesis: How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for Soul of America. It makes for good bedside reading, along with Duke historian Nancy MacLean’s exposé, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.

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David Masciotra is the author of five books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015) and I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters (Bloomsbury, 2020).

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