Books, online sources and other material on US Politics
August 31, 2015 11:24 AM   Subscribe

What are some good books and Resources on the politics of Red, Blue and everything in between (in the US)? Inspired by this thread on the blue, I realized I had no idea of what each party really, really wants on the major issues.

Are there well-researched, neutral and well-written books that are not boring, door-stoppers? Online resources, preferably not behind a paywall are also very welcome.

A summary of arguments on both sides, with any evidence/facts that are presented would be ideal, more like a well-argued case in court. I agree that perception, emotions and politics will play a big part on the stand taken by parties and individuals on critical issues, which is an important piece of the puzzle.

Economic policy (Unemployment, interest rates etc), self-regulation, GMOs, Climate Change, Military expansion, Big Industry, Immigration and Social security are some of the big-ticket items I am looking for.

I have read through some similar threads on askmefi, but hoping for some more comprehensive material.

Non-partisan books on US Politics

Classic Dem/Liberal Literature
posted by theobserver to Law & Government (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Googling "political compass" should get you some results (even if the traditional "Left/Right" dichotomy might not mean much these days) and they present a very basic introduction to politics and I think one of them provided lists on (sourced) stances for individual topics, although that usually only happens on the presidential election cycle.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:46 AM on August 31, 2015


So, something to consider here is that because of the way U.S. parties are organized (much more loosely than European-style parties), it's hard to say exactly what each party specifically "wants" in a concrete way. There is not one Republican position on immigration -- there are lots of people who identify as Republican voters + Republican office holders + Republican candidates, all of whom are going to approach this question a bit differently. On other issues, it's pretty clear that the party has a more defined position (for example, you'll find few Democrats at this point who are anti-gay marriage), but often this is something that has evolved fairly recently (if you go back 10 years, there was much more diversity of opinion on gay marriage among Democrats than there is today).

A couple of things you might find interesting:

This website lists the platforms for each party. This will give a sense of what each party could agree to at its convention -- it's not that every member of that party will agree with every plank, but it gives you a good idea of the general positions.

David Karol has what I think it is a pretty readable book on party position change, or how parties end up moving in the policy space over time -- for example, the Democratic party was once the party defending slavery and then Jim Crow, but today is more racially liberal and overwhelmingly supported by African Americans.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2015


Your question is so broad it's going to be hard to answer. I'm not sure its possible to say what each party really wants because both parties are the product of coalitions of interest groups. That said, the high survey level analysis of American Politics you're interested in might be the kind of thing you could get from a good 100 level university course on American politics. There are several good open courses on this online, maybe you could browse through Introduction to American Politics or one of the many other polisci courses from MIT as a starting point.

Also this is just my personal opinion but I think Bob Altemeyer's work on authoritarianism explains a whole heck of a lot about American politics.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh also a very good link that was in the discussion on the blue that you linked to but may have escaped your attention is the short article Ten Things Political Scientists Know that You Don’t by Hans Noel at Georgetown.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:26 PM on August 31, 2015


Swaths of it are a few years out of date, but On the Issues is a good online resource for this -- it's non-partisan and the supporting evidence for a given position is all very solid: voting records, bill sponsorships, press releases, on-the-record interviews. Here are their pages on the Democratic and Republican party platforms, along with the most recent additions to the site.
posted by divined by radio at 12:39 PM on August 31, 2015


FYI, if you swing in an amazon direction, the Kindle Daily Deal for today is 425 "back to school" books for college students, including 36 on mostly-US politics. There are more under "History" that deal with historical politics in the US in ways that may be interesting (and a couple in science, dealing with climate change in the US from various perspectives including the political). "Lies My Teacher Told Me," which is about how US history is twisted to present particular (typically patriotic) myths to US history students is also in the deal today.

theobserver: "A summary of arguments on both sides, with any evidence/facts that are presented would be ideal, more like a well-argued case in court."

I think Vox.com's explainers are actually pretty good at this.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:57 PM on August 31, 2015


PolitiFact won a Pulitzer prize and describes itself as "an independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics."

FactCheck.org describes itself as a "nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics" and has a political literacy companion site FlackCheck.org.

The Washington Post Fact Checker blog has a mission "to “truth squad” the statements of political figures regarding issues of great importance, be they national, international or local."
posted by Little Dawn at 7:44 PM on August 31, 2015


Read Paul Krugman's blog daily. Related, sometimes those fact checker sites are full of shit. Not always, but sometimes.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:37 AM on September 1, 2015


There are no "objective" neutral observers in American politics. Boring or otherwise. Anyone who writes a book has an agenda.

Paul Krugman is the mouthpiece of mainstream establishment Democrats, you can find the same biased opinions from the establishment Republicans in the WSJ, but these are little help to understanding the diversity of opinion which exists across the political spectrum.

What you might want to do is to read hard-core political magazines on both sides. I used to buy the National Review and The New Republic to get the mainstream establishment views of both right and left and I would occasionally pick-up The American Spectator and Mother Jones to get the more radical views outside the establishment.

The Spectator and Mother Jones are fun reads, but both represent minority views within their respective political camps. I think NR and TNR have fallen out of fashion, but they are both still mainstream establishment rags.

What I find is that no one really is straight up about policy. American politics (and I suppose any Democracy) is about winning votes, appealing to emotions and prejudices, and not getting support for specific, clear cut policies.
posted by three blind mice at 2:49 AM on September 1, 2015


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