Wednesday, March 22, 2017
From the Bookshelves: ONE NATION UNDECIDED: CLEAR THINKING ABOUT FIVE HARD ISSUES THAT DIVIDE US by Peter H. Schuck
ONE NATION UNDECIDED: CLEAR THINKING ABOUT FIVE HARD ISSUES THAT DIVIDE US by Peter H. Schuck, Princeton University Press, March 2017, 2017
In this new book, One Nation Undecided: Clear Thinking About Five Hard Issues That Divide Us (Princeton UP, 2017), Schuck first analyzes the factors that make "hard" issues hard, explore the quality of public debate about them, and explain what the title means by "clear thinking." Chapters 2 through 6 are devoted to detailed analyses of five hard issues: poverty, immigration, campaign finance, affirmative action, and religious exemptions from secular rules after the Hobby Lobby and Obergefell decisions. Each chapter begins by presenting the issue's context -- the relevant history, law, institutions, politics, and public opinion. Next, it disaggregates the issue into its main components. Beginning with key definitional and measurement questions (as in the case of poverty), it then elaborates the competing norms invoked by different groups and identifies the key factual claims and uncertainties. (Those who dominate public debates on these issues often suppress or ignore these uncertainties, either deliberately or because of their own ignorance.) Finally, each chapter discusses the nature and performance of current federal policies directed at that issue, and the reform options. A concluding chapter explores the similar and dissimilar underlying structures of the five issues.