NONFICTION

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power To the People

HMH. Mar. 2020. 288p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780358176923; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780358387428.
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Gr 6 Up–Rusch offers a sprawling, information-rich exploration of the current state of American democracy. Readers will gain a greater understanding of topics including how dark money can influence elections, voter suppression, and what the Senate actually is and how it impacts the democratic functioning of the United States government. Snappy infographics help break up the text, which can sometimes seem daunting. Extensive reliance on academic experts in fields such as gerrymandering and voter turnout prevents the appearance of partisanship. Rusch clearly wants to avoid bias; there is an almost pathological pattern of citing an identified Republican source and then citing an identified Democratic source (and vice versa) in close proximity. The work’s broad scope is sometimes its downfall. When discussing the Electoral College, the author minimizes the pivotal role that slavery played in its establishment and the passage of the 12th Amendment. Furthermore, Rusch repeatedly props up the Constitution as a democratic lodestar; it might be asked how democratic our roots are if women, Native Americans, and people of color were not allowed to vote on this foundational document.
VERDICT A serviceable resource for middle and high school patrons who want to improve our democracy.

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