ISBN is

978-0-385-50045-6 / 9780385500456

The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics

by

Publisher:Doubleday

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

The Radical Center proposes to take American politics in a totally new direction: away from "our rigid two-party cartel" of Republicans and Democrats, and toward a centrism that currently doesn't exist in an electoral sense. "Our nation's politics are dominated by two feuding dinosaurs that have outlived the world in which they evolved," write Ted Halstead and Michael Lind. Both men are affiliated with the New America Foundation, and Lind is the provocative author of The Next American Nation and Vietnam: The Necessary War. They believe the ongoing technological revolution will transform American politics in fundamental ways, and most of The Radical Center advocates specific shifts across a range of issues. The result is a mishmash that isn't so much a set of new ideas as a blend of existing ones. Halstead and Lind want to enact private-school choice for students and parents (a conservative idea), for instance, and also to equalise funding by essentially abolishing the states' role in education (something that might appeal to liberals). Their goal, they say, is to increase personal choices where possible and minimise class inequalities where feasible.

Much of The Radical Center reads like a wonk's fantasy; Halstead and Lind identify policy problems everywhere they look--from voting rights to health care--and suggest solutions with the confidence of technocrats who believe they can remake the world. What they produce is a grab bag that will simultaneously fascinate and frustrate readers who start off ensconced on either the right or left of the political spectrum. How many people will favour both their idea of abolishing all corporate income taxes as well as their notion of implementing a new nationwide tax on consumption? But that's the point: Halstead and Lind try to forge a new politics that takes the best parts of today's left and right and abandons the rest as so much deadweight. The Radical Center is at once jarring and invigorating; readers willing to engage with it will wrestle with hard questions. Many may come away persuaded by large parts of Halstead and Lind's argument. And if the whole project sounds a tad ambitious, there's a reason: "Major political change in the United States, in short, tends to be revolutionary, not evolutionary." If that's true, then consider The Radical Center a manifesto for a new age that's right around the corner. --John Miller

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