The American Anomaly systematically analyzes the U.S. political system by way of comparison with other countries, especially other industrialized democracies. It is organized into four sections, respectively covering the constitutional order, governmental institutions, political participation, and public policy. Extended case studies and examples in each chapter draw on all the major regions of the world.
Thoroughly revised throughout, the fourth edition includes:
- Updates to reflect events including the anomalous presidential election of 2016, the start of the unconventional presidency of Donald Trump, and shifting partisan dynamics within Congress.
- Coverage of recent political developments such as the Black Lives Matter and Antifa left-wing groups, the rise of the Alt-Right and resurgent nationalism, and youth-led movements for immigration reform and gun violence prevention.
- A newly developed chapter offering a comparative perspective on U.S. public opinion and mass media, including social media; includes a new case study focused on post-Communist Russia and a chart on comparative freedom of the press.
- The contextualizing of emerging political memes such as "fake news," "alternative facts," the "deep state," "Brexit," and "#MeToo".
- Updates to examples from other countries, including challenges to the European Union; the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings; recent political upheavals in Venezuela, Zimbabwe, South Korea, and Brazil; the global reassertion of Russian power and its possible manipulation of the US election; and the steady growth of China’s global military and economic role.
- A substantive update to the domestic policy chapter, in light of the return of unified Republican control in Washington DC, and to the foreign policy chapter, taking into account isolationist and unlateralist thinking in the Trump administration.
- Updated tables and charts comparing major democratic political systems; expanded further reading suggestions; and revised discussion questions and Web-based exercises throughout the book.
Table of Contents
Part 1: The Constitutional Order
1. The American Nation, State, and Regime
Case Study: The Nation, State, and Regime in Poland
2. The U.S. Constitution
Case Study: The Post-Apartheid Constitution of South Africa
Case Study: The Unitary State in Japan
Case Study: German Federalism
4. Separation of Powers
Case Study: The Westminster Parliamentary Model
A Hypothetical Case Study: Parliamentary Checks and Balances
Part 2: The Institutions of Government
5. The Executive Branch: The Presidency and the Bureaucracy
Case Study: Variations in Executive Power in Southeast Asia
6. The Legislative Branch: The Two Houses of Congress
Case Study: Legislative Variation in the Former British Dominions
7. The Judicial Branch: The Supreme Court and the Federal Courts
Case Study: The Judiciary in France
Part 3: Political Participation
8. Unconventional Political Participation: Activism, Social Movements, and Interest Groups
Case Study: The Zapatista Movement in Mexico
9. Voting and Elections
Case Study: Voting and Elections in Israel
10. Political Parties
A Hypothetical Case Study: Electoral Systems and the Number of Parties
11. Public Opinion and Mass Media
Case Study: Public Opinion and Mass Media in Post-Communist Russia
Part 4: Public Policy and Policymaking
12. Domestic Policy: Socioeconomic Regulation, Civil Liberties, and Civil Rights
Case Study: Social Welfare Policy in Denmark
13. Foreign Policy: The United States in the World
Case Study: The Foreign Policy of China
Conclusion: The American Anomaly on Balance
For Further Study: A Brief Bibliographic Essay on "American Exceptionalism"
Raymond A. Smith, Ph.D., LL.M., is an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Center for Global Affairs at New York University and a Senior Fellow with the Progressive Policy Institute. He is author of Importing Democracy: Ideas from Around the World to Reform and Revitalize American Politics and Government.