Sasquatch Books logo

The Gardens of Democracy

A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

$8.99

192 pages

ISBN: 9781570618437

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today--generate these simple but revolutionary ideas:

True self interest is mutual interest. (Society, it turns out, is an ecosystem that is healthiest when we take care of the whole.)

Society becomes how we behave. (The model of citizenship depends on contagious behavior, hence positive behavior begets positive behavior.)

We’re all better off when we’re all better off. (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Adjust the definition of wealth to society creating solutions for all.)

Government should be about the big what and the little how. (Government should establish the ideas and the goals, and then let the people find the solutions of how to make it happen.)

Freedom is responsibility. (True freedom is not about living some variant of libertarianism but rather an active cooperation a part of a big whole society; freedom costs a little freedom.)

The Gardens of Democracy is an optimistic, provocative, and timely summons to improve our role as citizens in a democratic society.

ERIC LIU is the founder and CEO of Citizen University and executive director of the Aspen Institute Citizenship and American Identity Program. He is the author of several books, including You’re More Powerful than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen, The True Patriot, and A Chinaman's Chance. Eric served as a White House speechwriter and policy adviser for President Bill Clinton. He is a regular columnist for CNN.com and a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com.
 
NICK HANAUER is a Seattle-based serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author and activist with a knack for identifying and building transformative business models. In 2007, he co-authored The True Patriot with Eric Liu and co-founded The True Patriot Network, a non-partisan group committed to furthering patriotic ideals. He also co-founded the Washington State League of Education Voters (LEV), a non-partisan statewide political organization focused on promoting public education, where he serves as co-president.

Recommended by Justin Trudeau (Quora Q&A, April 2017)

"Liu and Hanauer have proposed a powerful new way to think about how society works and there is a lot here for conservatives to work with and debate." --Noah Kristula-Green, The Daily Beast

The Gardens of Democracy provides a refreshing new conceptual approach to understanding our economic and political situation, and it will help us move past the fossilized ideas in today’s public debates.”--Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order

“Society is a garden. Liu and Hanauer’s simple metaphor makes the complexities and limits of social policy emerge before your eyes. Statists can’t see the interconnections of organic systems. Free marketers can’t see that a garden needs some tending. If you’re looking for a way forward out of America’s dangerous gridlock, read this wonderful book.”--Jonathan Haidt, Professor of psychology, University of Virginia and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

“Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer are progressives who always think outside the box, and that’s why everyone should pay attention to them. The Gardens of Democracy shakes up our stale debate over government’s role in a dynamic society, and in a thoughtful, creative and inventive way. Everyone will find something to disagree with here, and that’s the point: getting us out of our comfort zones is an immensely useful democratic undertaking.”--E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why Americans Hate Politics

"I just read a remarkable book by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. It is The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government.  I highly recommend it as a big gust of fresh air to clear out the dense, stale, gases we have all been breathing when it comes to how we talk about politics and citizenship. It is time to break out of the prison of left/right thinking that has made politics so mean spirited in recent years... There is something in this new metaphor for both the left and the right."--Ray Smock, Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies

"Even if you don't agree with everything the authors propose, you will find 'The Gardens of Democracy' to be spirited and thought provoking."--The Bellingham Herald

"We’d do well to shift our political and economic metaphors from images involving machinery toward more organic ways of thinking… [A] nifty way of rethinking metaphors for what government does."--Wonkette

Share

Also Available

Become America

Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy