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Grand Illusion : The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
A smart, provocative, and wildly entertaining personal-narrative-plus-analysis by Ralph Nader's campaign manager, illustrating just how bad our two-party system can be for democracy.
As the national campaign manager for Ralph Nader's runs for president in 2000 and 2004, Theresa Amato had a rare ringside role in the last two hotly contested presidential elections. The only woman ever to have managed two high-profile American presidential campaigns, she gives us both an inside look at and a witty, thoughtful critique of the American electoral system, shattering the myth that anyone can grow up and run for president.
Writing in defense of "candidate rights," Amato makes the case for specific reforms in the United States's ridiculously arcane system of ballot access laws, complex federal regulations, and partisan election administration. Her argument--to set federal standards for federal elections and lift the overwhelming barriers to entry faced by third-party and Independent candidates--will make people across the political spectrum take notice.
Looking beyond the Nader story to campaigns waged by challengers John Anderson, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and others, Amato shows how the two major parties deprive our country of a robust political life, stripping candidates of their First Amendment rights and cheating voters out of meaningful political choice.
The monumental difficulty of running for president of the United States as a third party or independent candidate is the subject of this informative but sometimes tedious chronicle by Ralph Nader's former campaign manager, who frames her crusade to get Nader onto the ballots in the 2000 and 2004 elections as a stand to give voters more voices and more choices. An NYU law school graduate, Amato brings a lawyeros sensibility to the book and details the endless technicalities, lawsuits and court rulings that Nader's team faced. This diligent chronicling could be essential reading for anyone planning to mount or advise an independent or third party run for president, but it is hard to imagine that the general reader will be captivated by the rented office space scandal of June 2004 and other such complications. Despite the book's flaws, Amato displays an encyclopedic knowledge of election law, and her recommendations for election reform, including a comprehensive plan for Federal Administration and Financing of Elections, are crucial contributions to the debate over election law. (June)
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The New Press
June 07, 2009
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