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The Jefferson Rule : How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible
by David Sehat


Overview - In The Jefferson Rule , historian David Sehat describes how everyone from liberals to conservatives, secessionists to unionists have sought out the Founding Fathers to defend their policies.
Beginning with the debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over the future of the nation, and continuing through the Civil War, the New Deal, the Reagan Revolution, and Obama and the Tea Party, many pols have asked, "What would the Founders do?" instead of "What is the common good today?" Recently both the Right and the Left have used the Founders to sort through such issues as voting rights, campaign finance, free speech, gun control, taxes, and war and peace.
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More About The Jefferson Rule by David Sehat
 
 
 
Overview
In The Jefferson Rule, historian David Sehat describes how everyone from liberals to conservatives, secessionists to unionists have sought out the Founding Fathers to defend their policies.
Beginning with the debate between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over the future of the nation, and continuing through the Civil War, the New Deal, the Reagan Revolution, and Obama and the Tea Party, many pols have asked, "What would the Founders do?" instead of "What is the common good today?" Recently both the Right and the Left have used the Founders to sort through such issues as voting rights, campaign finance, free speech, gun control, taxes, and war and peace. They have used an outdated context to make sense of contemporary concerns.
This oversimplification obscures our real issues. From Jefferson to this very day we have looked to the eighteenth century to solve our problems, even though the Fathers themselves were a querulous and divided group who rarely agreed. Coming to terms with the past, Sehat suggests, would be the start of a productive debate. And in this account, which is by turns informative, colorful, and witty, he shows us why.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781476779775
  • ISBN-10: 1476779775
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: May 2015
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Political Science > American Government - General
Books > Political Science > Political Process - General
Books > Political Science > Political Ideologies - Conservatism & Liberalism

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-03-23
  • Reviewer: Staff

From the Jacksonians to the Tea Party, historian Sehat (The Myth of American Religious Freedom) shows how a range of American political leaders have invoked the Founding Fathers for their own ideological ends. Sometimes this has been on behalf of America’s highest ideals, as when Martin Luther King, Jr. described the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to be “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” Far more often, however, the Founders’ diverse views have been levied to present a one-dimensional view of American political philosophy, as when Ronald Reagan drew a straight line from Thomas Jefferson to the “conservative principles of limited government, fiscal austerity, and states’ rights.” America’s founders, as Sehat documents, were complex and often contradicted themselves: for example, Jefferson had stood for states’ rights in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and a strong federal government in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Sehat indulges in long digressions while discussing debates over such matters as Reagan’s tax and budget cuts of the early 1980s. He also never explains his cryptic title—what exactly is “the Jefferson rule”? Still, this is a sobering, informative study of concepts America’s political origins too often viewed with rose-tinted glasses. (May)

 
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