The New Attack on American Democracy
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This work is a quality analysis of the problems posed by Political Action Committees in American life. As the author notes in his new introduction: "Political corruption, as measured by campaign contributions of special interests to elected officials, increased significantly in the few years since the first publication of Capital Corruption. The number of PACs rose from 2,551 in 1980 to 4,175 by 1986. The percentage of PAC contribution of total campaign costs increased from 31.4 percent in 1980 to 41.9 percent (House) and 24.5 percent to 27.0 percent (Senate) in 1986." Such data only begin to tell the story of a book which has grown in stature during the decade.
Etzioni characterizes Washington as a marketplace where deals are struck, where a special interest group can buy single pieces of legislation or long-run commitments or a whole slew of legislation. Because such purchases are not direct, but elliptical, they fall within the legal system, but for Etzioni, they are beyond the pale of moral or political worthiness. The book provides policy answers to vexing political dilemmas of mass politics today. The volume has been described as "a devastating indictment of our present system of financing elections" (John Anderson); Etzioni has been called "arguably the best political sociologist writing today" (Warren Bennis); and the founder of Common Cause has termed this "a powerful and important book. If it is widely read and understood the nation will benefit" (John Gardner).