American politics seems to be in an unprecedented uproar. But in this work of political history, James A. Morone shows that today's rancor isn't what's new -- the clarity of the battle lines is. Past eras were full of discord, but the most contentious question in American society -- Who are we? -- never previously split along party lines as clearly as it does today.
How did it come to this? James A. Morone’s Republic of Wrath offers a fresh theory to an already sizable pile of explanations for the dismal state of our politics ... [It's] an intriguing idea, but it struggles to maintain its heft through the brisk survey of American political history that follows, starting with the country’s founding. The only thread holding it all together appears to be Morone pausing from time to time to remind us that Americans have frequently sparred over issues of race, immigration and gender ... Morone’s narrative gains some steam the closer it gets to the present, when the contours of our current political climate become clearer. He offers a useful reminder that the switch of Black Americans from the party of Lincoln to the Democrats was a shocking development — one he credits to Franklin Roosevelt’s expansive social policies, even if they were not always designed to be equitable ... This history, he suggests, means that we should not try to predict how political alliances may look in the future. And it also means that we should be wary of declaring that American politics are uglier now than they have ever been. For as Morone acknowledges at the end, partisanship is 'not a fever. It is what democracies do.'
Morone closes this wide-ranging and readable history by venturing some suggestions on how the 'tribal' breakdown of politics might be further reconfigured so that Trumpist ideas are shed for the 'big tent' notions of old in the Republican Party. At a more practical level, he urges that voting rights be made automatic and easy: 'Register every American when they turn eighteen. No caveats. No paperwork. No convoluted residency tests.' ... A brilliant exposé of the uglier undercurrents of American political history.
Political scientist Morone...surveys more than 200 years of partisan discord in this incisive and well-researched history ... Monroe marshals a vast amount of information into a brisk, accessible narrative, and draws illuminating contrasts between past and present, spotlighting, for instance, stark differences between the politics of Democratic presidential candidates Harry Truman and Hillary Clinton. This nuanced and richly detailed account offers essential perspective ahead of the 2020 election.