"When executive branch agencies started their ascendancy to power, lobbyists began to cultivate the officials running the agencies."

In school government classes, Americans are taught an idealized version of how our country’s leaders create new laws and make difficult decisions. However, the aftermath of Vietnam-era politics has moved our country in a different direction, one that involves leadership not by elected officials but by lobbyists with deep pockets and specialized technocrats that prevent the average citizen from having an impact in affairs at the federal, state, and even local level. By identifying the crisis of confidence that took place in the American people that led to the current state of affairs, this book illustrates the growing schism in partisan politics and how lobbyists and special interests have moved in to stoke the division between left and right while pushing through legislation that benefits them through massive spending.

Each chapter contains plenty of information to digest, including legal history, analogues from concepts to recent political events and developments, and insights on the interpretations of the founding fathers. Most of the book focuses on explaining lobbyism and providing case studies and real-world examples of its impacts, but there is also a conclusive chapter that shows ways and organizations that are fighting back against the influence of lobbyists and trying to restore the government to a “by the people, for the people” structure. Providing the historical perspective, present-day examples, and a vision for the future, this policy book aims to inspire its readers by teaching them about the corruption of government and how ordinary citizens can be empowered to overturn those mistakes.

As a text that seeks to find its way into the hands of the average person, this reads quite well for a book about public policy. The text is well-organized under chapters and sub-headings and written in a clear voice that is easy to read and retain. Concepts are given plenty of room for explanation and are always paired with an example that readers will either be likely to be familiar with or surprised to learn about. These examples are often included in helpful footnotes, but readers looking to dive more deeply into the subject can consult the extensive bibliography at the end of the book. Even without the extra reading, there is more than enough information contained here to give readers the full picture on the governmental takeover by lobbyists and technocrats.

Written during the Obama administration, much of the information here still rings true and is still relevant to the current political landscape, and so it is still valuable for new readers. The author is able to approach a volatile subject in a way that transcends traditional party lines and provides a perspective that avoids being condescending or blaming. That style proves to be one of this book’s strongest assets, as it enables readers to learn and form an opinion without feeling the reflexive need to become defensive. Important, interesting, accessible, and proving to remain relevant despite an always-changing political climate, this study and suggestion on straightforward, direct governance should be required reading for anyone with an interest in bettering political affairs in the United States either as a voter or candidate.

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