ON-Lion Letter

The United States has been shaped by three far-reaching political revolutions:  Jefferson’s "revolution of 1800," the Civil War, and the New Deal.  Each of these upheavals concluded with lasting institutional and cultural adjustments that set the stage for new phases of political and economic development.  Are we on the verge of a new upheaval, a "fourth revolution" that will reshape U.S. politics for decades to come?  There are signs to suggest that we are.

In his Shattered Consensus:  The Rise and Decline of America's Postwar Political Order, forthcoming from Encounter Books, James Piereson describes the political upheaval that will overtake the United States over the next decade as a consequence of economic stagnation, the growth of government, and the exhaustion of post-war arrangements that formerly underpinned American prosperity and power.  The interconnected challenges of public debt, the retirement of the "baby-boom" generation, and slow economic growth have reached a point where they can no longer be addressed by incremental adjustments in taxes and spending, but will require profound changes in the role of government in American life.  At the same time, the widening gulf between the two political parties and the entrenched power of interest groups will make it difficult to negotiate the changes needed to renew the system.

Piereson is president of the William E. Simon Foundation, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, and director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for the American University

Shattered Consensus places the impending upheaval in historical context by reminding readers that Americans have faced and overcome similar challenges in the past and that they seem to resolve their deepest problems in relatively brief, but intense periods of political conflict.  In contrast to other books that claim the U.S. is in decline, he argues in the book that Americans will struggle over the next decade to form a governing coalition that will guide the nation on a path of renewed dynamism and prosperity.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as is the Manhattan Institute.

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