Why a book defending government? Because for decades, right-wing forces in this country have engaged in a relentless and irresponsible campaign of vicious government bashing. Conservatives and libertarians have demonized government, attacked basic safety net programs like Medicare, and undermined vital regulations that protect consumers, investors, workers, and the environment. This book takes on this anti-government movement and shows that most of its criticisms of this institution are highly exaggerated, misleading, or just plain wrong. In reality, American government - despite its flaws - plays a valuable and indispensable role in promoting the public good. Most government programs are working well and are actually improving the lives of Americans in innumerable ways. Democratic government is a vital tool for making our world a better place; and if we want an America that is prosperous, healthy, secure, well-educated, just, compassionate, and unpolluted, we need a strong, active, and well-funded public sector.
Part I: Why Government is Good. The section of the book describes how government acts as a force for good in society. One chapter chronicles a day in the life of an average middle-class American and identifies the myriad ways that government programs improve our lives. Other chapters describe the forgotten achievements of government; how government is the only way to effectively promote public values like justice and equality; and how a free market economy would be impossible without the elaborate legal and regulatory infrastructure provided by government.
Part II: The War on Government. This section of the book chronicles the unrelenting assault on government being waged by conservative forces in this country. Chapters describe how cuts in social programs and rollbacks of regulations have harmed the health, safety, and welfare of millions of Americans and how these assaults have taken place on many fronts - in Congress, the administrative branch, and the federal courts, as well as on the state and local level. Also addressed: how the right's radical anti-government agenda is out of touch with the views and priorities of most Americans, and what the real truth is about government deficits.
Part III: How to Revitalize Democracy and Government. There are, in fact, some problems with American government, and we need to address these if we are to restore Americans' faith in this institution. One of the main problems with our government is that it is not accountable and responsive enough to the public. Moneyed special interests too often win out over the public interest. Chapters in this section describe this problem and how we can fix it. There are several reforms - including public financing of elections - that could help our government live up to its democratic ideals. The final chapter discusses strategies for building a pro-government coalition in this country.