Approaching Democracy : American Government in Times of Challenge book cover
10th Edition

Approaching Democracy
American Government in Times of Challenge

  • Available for pre-order on April 11, 2023. Item will ship after May 2, 2023
ISBN 9781032300634
May 2, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
904 Pages 160 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Democracy cannot be taken for granted, whether at home or internationally, and eternal vigilance (along with civic intelligence) is required to protect it. Approaching Democracy provides students with a framework to analyze the structure, process, and action of US government, institutions, and social movements. It also invites comparison with other countries. This globalizing perspective gives students an understanding of issues of governance and challenges to democracy here and elsewhere. At a moment of political hyper-partisanship, economic tensions, media misinformation, hyper-partisanship, and anxieties about the future of civil rights, this is the ideal time to introduce Approaching Democracy--a textbook based on Vaclav Havel’s powerful metaphor of democracy as an ideal and the American experiment as the closest approach to it--to a new generation of political science undergraduate students.


  • Updated to reflect the results of the 2022 midterm elections and explore the implications of Congressional redistricting, voting suppression, and voting rights legislation.
  • Covers the first two years of the Biden administration and provides a thorough retrospective on the Trump presidency—including updates on the January 6 Commission findings and the Justice department’s investigation into Trump’s alleged misappropriation of classified government documents.
  • Presents the developments on the Supreme Court including the appointment of its two newest justices and major recent decisions including controversial rulings on reproductive health, the separation of church and state, and the environment
  • Explores the revival of NATO and other international alliances in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • New and updated material has also been provided regarding gun control, healthcare, labor rights, immigration, economic policy, COVID-19’s lingering impacts, and the ongoing struggle for social and racial justice in America.


Table of Contents

Part I Foundations of American Democracy

1. Approaching Democracy

2. The Founding and the Constitution


Part II Institutions of American Democracy

4. Congress

5. The Presidency

6. The Judiciary

7. The Bureaucracy

Part III Processes of American Democracy

8. Public Opinion

9. Political Parties

10. Participation, Voting, and Elections

11. Interest Groups

12. The Media

Part IV Liberties and Rights in American Democracies

13. Civil Liberties

14. Civil Rights and Political Equality

Part V Policy Making in American Democracy

15. Domestic and Economic Policy

16. Foreign Policy

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Larry Berman is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis, and former Founding Dean of the Honors College at Georgia State University.

Bruce Allen Murphy is the Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights in the Department of Government and Law at Lafayette College.

Nadia E. Brown is a Professor of Government, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and affiliate in the African American Studies program at Georgetown University

Sarah Allen Gershon is Associate Professor of Political Science and holds the Ray and John Uttenhove WomenLead professorship at Georgia State University.


Praise for Approaching Democracy:American Democracy in Times of Challenge

"This volume is innovative for its approach to the study of American Democracy. Features that encourage critical reflections on American exceptionalism and compel the reader to place themselves at the center of civic debates facilitate active learning and foster engaged citizenship. This is the right text for our political times when inviting students into the processcould not be more critical for democracy."

--Anna Mitchell Mahoney, Tulane University

"Approaching Democracy neatly and efficiently captures the essential terminology, concepts, conceptualizations, and debates that are at the heart of understanding American politics and government, both in its current form and in its past iterations. It also effectively examines both substantive and analytical considerations related to identity politics and those increasingly significant aspects of American life."

--Stephen R. Routh, Stanislaus State University

"Approaching Democracy presents the foundations of American politics situated in the context of our unique moment in time. The authors weave together centuries-old concepts underlying American democracy with the consequential and controversial debates that are unfolding today before students’ eyes."

--Samara Klar, University of Arizona

"This was one of the first textbooks I adopted when I began teaching undergraduate courses in American government, and I plan to resume using it. I am pleased to see that the newest edition addresses current social and political events while making the study of the intersectional identities of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. a prominent feature throughout the book."

--Ray Block Jr., Pennsylvania State University