Rarely has America been so bitterly divided. Partisans now view those with differing opinions as the enemy. Cable news programs inflame passions rather than inform viewers. Social media provides the most irrational partisans a venue to spew their hatred and bias. Town hall meetings, once the staple of representative democracy, have degenerated into choreographed shouting matches. Money flows into campaigns at unprecedented rates. Centrists are nearly extinct in Congress, where compromise has become a dirty word. All the while, ordinary Americans feel disenfranchised, watching in disgust as our political process has been hijacked by ideological extremists.
A former three-term member of Congress, Jason Altmire is uniquely qualified to offer solutions to the polarization that has paralyzed Washington. A respected political moderate known for working with both sides of the aisle, Altmire during his time in office was recognized as having the most centrist voting record in the entire House of Representatives.
In Dead Center, Altmire takes a critical look into the academic and social science research about cognitive bias and the way people think, as well as the most commonly cited causes of polarization, such as gerrymandering, campaign finance, and cable and social media. Altmire supplements those themes with revealing anecdotes from his time in Congress, highlighting the challenges facing political moderates in this deeply divided country.
Fast-paced and easily-readable, Dead Center moves beyond the tired rhetoric that so often dominates our political discourse. Featuring a cast of characters including Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, Dead Center contains riveting anecdotes from Altmire’s time in office, giving readers an inside view of what it is like to be a centrist in a divided Congress. Altmire draws upon his first-hand experience in the corridors of power to evaluate the root causes of polarization and offer novel solutions to break the gridlock and restore to Washington a spirit of cooperation nonexistent today.
"Jason Altmire was a throwback to our better angels -- to a time when a brave few in each party dared to talk to the other party. Thing is, this former Pennsylvania Democratic Congresman was doing this, or trying to, just a few years ago. This isn't ancient history. The cooperation ingrained in doing the people's work is our history. Whatever your thoughts on how we got so divisive, hear from a guy who was working the front lines, simply imploring his colleagues to just get something done."
"Congressman Jason Altmire was one of the most thoughtful, pragmatic voices in the House when he served, so it's not surprising that he's tackling the subject of rampant polarization with refreshing candor and independent insights in his first book. Most importantly, he offers solutions to help break the excessive partisanship that has poisoned our country's politics. This book couldn't have come at a better time."
"Jason Altmire has written an insightful book on how Washington has become more polarized and dysfunctional. He highlights the reasons why centrists in both parties have disappeared and why compromise is regarded as a four-letter word by factions on both the left and the right. Whether you're a political junkie or someone who just wants to know how and why our political system has changed in recent years, you should read this book."
"Altmire brings a unique mix of academic rigor and personal experience to analyzing the underlying causes of our nation's deep political polarization. With the critical eye of a political scientist and using fresh behind-the-scenes anecdotes from his time in Congress, he lays waste to common myths as certainly as he lays out his vision for healing the ills that plague our body politic. Anyone interested in why Washington is failing to meet the needs of voters - and how that can change - should read this book."
If you are looking for a silver bullet to awaken Americans from their malaise, you are on a fool's errand. But if you absorb Jason Altmire's wisdom in Dead Center, you will be on the path to understanding why America is going through its current crisis of civic disengagement and what can be done to reawaken our traditional civic spirit. As Dead Center describes from the experience of a smart politician and the analysis of respected scholars, the solutions to our civic illness are as complex as its causes. Aptly titled, Dead Center is the nutritiously balanced recipe for civic recovery, from civics education to reducing the influence of money in politics to encouraging timorous citizens to become active participants -- maybe even candidates -- for public and civic leadership.
"If you believe we need practical and common sense solutions to the ruinous gridlock which afflicts every level of government, then Jason Altmire's book is a must-read. Full of interesting anecdotes and feasible ideas for forming a more perfect union, Dead Center is required reading for anyone interested in learning how we can bridge the divide. Pragmatic leaders -- young and old -- should advance these concepts so critical to the well-being of our citizens and their American democracy."
"America can only be great when Americans are united in common purpose. Today, the realization of what we're capable of achieving seems farther away than ever. Jason Altmire and I entered Congress together, became friends, and frequently found ourselves together in the middle, literally, of legislative debates. He was also one of a number of leaders in Congress who selflessly worked to support my work as a Member of Congress while I focused on my recovery from the gunshot wound that changed my life. For those who know we can do better in this country, this is an important book."
"The entire work is written in an unpretentiously accessible style and represents precisely the kind of open-minded public discourse to which citizens should all aspire. An incisive, intellectually thorough analysis of one of the country's most pressing political problems." -- Kirkus Reviews