overs' Quarrel   

The United States has experienced Two Foundings, not one. In The Lovers' Quarrel, Elvin Lim argues that the framers of the second Constitution, the Federalists, were not operating in an ideational or institutional vacuum; rather, the document they drafted and ratified was designed to remedy the perceived flaws of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. To decouple the Two Foundings is to appreciate that there is no 'original meaning,' only original dissent. Because, on the insistence of the Anti-Federalists, prior and democratically sanctioned understandings of federalism and union had to be negotiated and partially grafted onto the new Constitution, the Constitution's Articles and the Bill of Rights do not cohere as well together as have conventionally been understood. Rather, they represent two antithetical orientations toward power, liberty, and republicanism. The Second Founding, or the 'founding' we have come to know as the only one Americans had, would become a template for the unique species of politics and political debate that occurs in the United States. American political development has occurred only after the political entrepreneurs of each generation locked horns in a Lovers' Quarrel about the relative priority of the principles of one of the Two Foundings, and succeeded in justifying and forging a durable expansion or contraction of federal authority.

Read an excerpt here.



"In this remarkable book, Elvin Lim rethinks American political history as an endless debate between two intertwined positions: power to the national government versus power to the states, effective administration versus rising democracy, federalism versus anti-federalism. The Lovers' Quarrel is powerful, elegant, meticulous, sweeping, brilliant, optimistic, and altogether exciting. It should be required reading for political historians, political theorists, and any reader interested in understanding the American past, its present and its future."
James A. Morone, author of The Democratic Wish, Hellfire Nation, and The Devils We Know, and Professor of Political Science and Urban Studies, Brown University.

"There is a Renaissance in federalism studies and Elvin Lim has made a singular contribution to it by reviving a serious analysis of the Anti-Federalists and their tradition (as well as much more).  This is a compelling and important book which should be read by all scholars of federalism and American political theory." --Malcolm Feeley, author (with Ed Rubin) of Federalism: Political Identity and Tragic Compromise, and Claire Sanders Clements Dean's Professor, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.




Anti-Intellectual Presidency

How is it that contemporary presidents talk so much and yet say so little, as H. L. Mencken once described, like "dogs barking idiotically through endless nights?" In The Anti-Intellectual Presidency (CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2008), Elvin Lim tackles this systemic problem and argues forcefully that it is because we have been too preoccupied in our search for a "Great Communicator," and have failed to take presidents to task for what they communicate to us. Lim warns that we must do something to recondition a political culture so easily seduced by smooth-operating anti-intellectual presidents. Drawing on interviews with over forty former presidential speechwriters and an analysis of over 20 million words spoken by every president in US history, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency sheds new light on the murky depths of presidential utterances and its consequences for American democracy.



"Elvin Lim documents a disturbing trend. Presidents are talking more, but their speech is getting less substantive and less informative. Simple declarations have come to substitute for reasoned arguments. Lim's findings ring true, all the more so for their careful empirical grounding and elegant presentation. I know of no book on presidential rhetoric that cuts more directly and effectively to the point."--Stephen Skowronek, author of The Politics Presidents Make, and Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science, Yale University

"That Presidents and speechwriters have killed oratory and gone 'anti-intellectual' will come as no surprise. But why? No scholar has thought more carefully and analyzed more rigorously this historic change in presidential communication with the public. This book will spawn important debates about the meaning and consequences of the 'dumbing down' of presidential rhetoric. It is a tour de force."--Elizabeth Sanders, author of Roots of Reform, and Professor of Government, Cornell University




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