Increasingly a spectator sport, electoral politics has become bitterly polarized by professional consultants and lobbyists, and has been boiled down to the distributive mantra of “who gets what.”
In “Everyday Politics,” Harry Boyte transcends partisan politics to offer an alternative. He demonstrates how community rooted activities reconnect citizens to engaged public life, not just on election day, but throughout the year.
Boyte demonstrates that this type of activism has a rich history and strong philosophical foundation. It rests on the stubborn faith that the talents and insights of ordinary citizens—from nursery school to nursing home—are crucial elements in public life.
Drawing on concrete examples of successful public work projects accomplished by diverse groups of people across the nation, Boyte demonstrates how citizens can master essential political skills, such as understanding issues in public terms, mapping complex issues of institutional power to create alliances, raising funds, communicating and negotiating across lines of difference. He describes how these skills can be used to address the larger challenges of our time, thereby advancing a renewed vision of democratic society and freedom in the 21st century.
“ Through a combination of experience, political analysis and philosophy, he shows us how ‘everyday politics’ can actually improve people’s lives,” says Jennifer Hochschild, professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Harvard University.
Boyte is founder and co-director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota and senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute. His books include “The Backyard Revolution” and, with Sara Evans, “Free Spaces.” Boyte will be a featured speaker at Penn’s Imagining America Conference in early November.
—University of Pennsylvania Press
Originally published on October 7, 2004