When George Bush's inaugural address stressed civility, compassion, and character, he was continuing a decade-long trend of American politicians trying to get "touchy feely" with the American electorate. Who could forget Bill Clinton's "I-feel-your-pain" chatter from the 1992 election, or the party conventions of 2000 where delegates recounted tales of privations endured and overcome. What this amounts to is the growth of no-politics politics—or "Junk Politics," as Benjamin DeMott — one of America's leading cultural critics — names it. DeMott explains that lack of character, civility, and feeling, rather than inequality and injustice, is seen as the root cause of our "national woes." Great causes—like the civil rights movement—nourish themselves on firm awareness of the substance of injustice. But those causes, DeMott warns, are losing their voice as junk politics gains ascendance. Junk Politics looks at the cultural influences and political signals of the last half century that have stamped the apolitical style of those in power. He focuses on some of the lesser-known but defining elements of Bush-era antipolitics rhetoric and action; that poverty is a character problem, that "leadership" is first of all an emollient, as he digs deeper into the cultural soil that has nourished these views.
About Benjamin DeMott
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Published January 5, 2004
by Nation Books.
Political & Social Sciences.