Alan Wolfe has previously written about the capacity of the American people to correct political imbalances and sustain consensus on many issues (One Nation, After All, 1998). In Does American Democracy Still Work? Wolfe does not express such optimism. He is worried that American democracy is in trouble. From his vantage point as a professor of political science at Boston College, he warns that the United States is experiencing a dangerous “new politics of democracy.”
What’s new? First, as Wolfe documents, the major divisions in American politics between the left and the right have changed. Party divisions no longer revolve around economics, but focus on moral and religious issues—the source of the so-called culture wars. Second, Wolfe notes, the side that has been gaining increasing power during the past 40 years—the right—is now making its case in the language of populism.