Political Power in America

Class Conflict and the Subversion of Democracy

By Anthony R. DiMaggio

Subjects: American Government, Political Science, Public Policy, Political Behavior
Hardcover : 9781438476933, 512 pages, December 2019
Paperback : 9781438476940, 512 pages, December 2019

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: A Class Analysis of the American Political System

1. Theories of Government, Early American History, and the Politics of Class Conflict

2. A Constitution in Question: How Democratic is the Founding Document?

3. Federalism and the Struggle for Democracy

4. Interest Groups and the Upper-Class Perversion of Political Power

5. Congress: The Dysfunctional Branch

6. The Executive Branch: Political Power, the Imperial Presidency, and the Threat to

7. The Bureaucracy and Rising Threats to the Common Good

8. The Courts and Judicial Process: Ideology, Conflict, and Class Elitism

9. Political Parties: A Crisis of Public Confidence

10. Elections and Voting: Electoral Capture by Elites

11. Politics and the Media: Bias in Pursuit of Elite Agendas

12. Public Opinion and Ideology: The Rise of Right-Wing Politics and Mass Resistance

13. Civil Liberties and the Quest for Corporate Personhood

14. Civil Rights and the Fight for Equality

15. Economic Policy: Growing Inequality and Business Power in Politics

16. Imperialism and U. S. Foreign Policy: Protecting Business Interests Abroad

Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?


Introduction to American politics and government, intended for students of political science. Provides a critical examination of both political institutions and political behavior.


Analyzing major political institutions such as Congress, the courts, the presidency, and the media, this book chronicles how the interests of affluent Americans—particularly business, professional, and corporate interests—dominate over those of "average" citizens. Anthony R. DiMaggio examines American political behavior, as it relates to lobbying, citizen activism, media consumption, and voting, to demonstrate how the public is often misinformed and manipulated regarding major political and economic matters. However, record public distrust of the government and the increasing popularity of mass protests suggest that most Americans are deeply unhappy with the political status quo, and many are willing to fight for change. Political Power in America details this interplay between a political system dominated by the affluent few and the rise of mass political distrust and protest. It offers information and tools needed to better understand the democratic deficit in American politics, while providing opportunities for discussing what we might do to address the mounting crisis of declining democracy.

Anthony R. DiMaggio is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He is the author of The Politics of Persuasion: Economic Policy and Media Bias in the Modern Era and Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media, and U.S. Foreign Policy since 9/11, both published by SUNY Press.


"The book is polemical—but no less interesting for that. In one respect, the book can be read as an introductory text on US politics: it is focused, comprehensive, and—with more than 100 pages of notes—very well-researched. It is clearly the work of someone with a long-term interest in and knowledge of the topic. DiMaggio's book is also a well-argued and comprehensive polemical diatribe against the corporate elites who dictate political (and economic) outcomes in the USA. " — Democratization

"An original and refreshing introductory text on the United States political system. The originality, coupled with an accessibility of critical concepts, makes this book truly one of a kind. " — Mark Major, author of The Unilateral Presidency and the News Media: The Politics of Framing Executive Power