Politics Is for Power
A brilliant condemnation of political hobbyism—treating politics like entertainment—and a call to arms for well-meaning, well-informed citizens who consume political news, but do not take political action.Who is to blame for our broken politics? The uncomfortable answer to this question starts with ordinary citizens with good intentions. We vote (sometimes) and occasionally sign a petition or attend a rally. But we mainly “engage” by consuming politics as if it’s a sport or a hobby. We soak in daily political gossip and eat up statistics about who’s up and who’s down. We tweet and post and share. We crave outrage. The hours we spend on politics are used mainly as pastime. Instead, we should be spending the same number of hours building political organizations, implementing a long-term vision for our city or town, and getting to know our neighbors, whose votes will be needed for solving hard problems. We could be accumulating power so that when there are opportunities to make a difference—to lobby, to advocate, to mobilize—we will be ready. But most of us who are spending time on politics today are focused inward, choosing roles and activities designed for our short-term pleasure. We are repelled by the slow-and-steady activities that characterize service to the common good. In Politics Is for Power, pioneering and brilliant data analyst Eitan Hersh shows us a way toward more effective political participation. Aided by political theory, history, cutting-edge social science, as well as remarkable stories of ordinary citizens who got off their couches and took political power seriously, this book shows us how to channel our energy away from political hobbyism and toward empowering our values.

Politics Is for Power Details

TitlePolitics Is for Power
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 14th, 2020
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781982116781
Rating
GenrePolitics, Nonfiction, Political Science, Social Issues, Activism

Politics Is for Power Review

  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very important book if not an obvious point. You have to play politics to win. And that doesn't mean playing dirty. It means organizing on the ground--at the school board, local party chapter, or anywhere where actual humans interact. I don't think there is anything new or revolutionary in here, but it does give a name to the new and annoying phenomenon of political hobbyism
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  • Melora
    January 1, 1970
    I got the recommendation for this one from a politics podcast, and, if you spend a lot of time listening to politics podcasts, you are probably the target audience for this book. Because... you might be a hobbyist. Hersh explains the difference between the people who spend lots of time actually doing politics -- the people who work on campaigns, go door to door talking to voters, try to get people to register to vote and then actually to vote, and so on -- and those who listen to podcasts, post I got the recommendation for this one from a politics podcast, and, if you spend a lot of time listening to politics podcasts, you are probably the target audience for this book. Because... you might be a hobbyist. Hersh explains the difference between the people who spend lots of time actually doing politics -- the people who work on campaigns, go door to door talking to voters, try to get people to register to vote and then actually to vote, and so on -- and those who listen to podcasts, post memes and argue on Facebook, and tweet. The participants and the bystanders. He's sympathetic -- as he admits, he's until only recently been just a bystander himself. But with the passion of the newly converted he points to the need for and the rewards of actually stepping into the fray. He offers stories of ordinary people who have seen a need and taken actions -- little things that build to something more significant -- that result in their having, along with those they are working with, political power. Nothing here will be new or revolutionary to readers who are already active in politics. Hersh finds, to his dismay, that his local Democratic party has their ways of doing things and is not much interested in his ideas for how they could do them better. So he finds other ways to work on sharing his ideas for how to make things better. Some groups are open to new ideas, some, not so much. But what is clear is that getting out and talking to people -- asking questions about what they want, why they vote or don't vote, sharing experiences and paying attention to the experiences of others -- is more rewarding than stewing and arguing with strangers on the internet, and that, ultimately, it could lead to sympathetic understanding of the needs of others and improvements in the common good.
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  • Micah
    January 1, 1970
    I inhaled this book in one sitting, literally, while waiting to renew my license at the DMV. Tufts political science professor Eitan Hersh precisely captures the difference between activism and organizing, though his term for the former is political hobbyism. Through four well-told stories of real organizers doing the vital work of building relationships and communities where people are bonded in common struggles aimed at achieving more power to serve their needs, Hersh lays down the gauntlet. I inhaled this book in one sitting, literally, while waiting to renew my license at the DMV. Tufts political science professor Eitan Hersh precisely captures the difference between activism and organizing, though his term for the former is “political hobbyism.” Through four well-told stories of real organizers doing the vital work of building relationships and communities where people are bonded in common struggles aimed at achieving more power to serve their needs, Hersh lays down the gauntlet. His survey finds that a massive number of Americans, one in five, claim to be politically active on a daily basis but that most of what they are actually doing is spectating and commenting, not real politics. Part of the blame goes to today’s party leaders at all levels who have largely abandoned organizing, choosing instead to rustle themselves into action mere weeks before every election. And part, Hersh persuasively argues, falls on ordinary voters who have grown lazy about civic involvement.The good news is that means there’s a lot of room for growth and fallow land to be filled anew. I see it in the thousands of people now meeting regularly all over the country determined to rebuild our democracy. Get this book, and if you aren’t already, get organizing.
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  • Lada
    January 1, 1970
    The historical background and analysis of present state are riveting. The suggestions for turning party associations to volunteer or community organizations seems far fetched.
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    This is a spot-on description of how people, particularly white educated liberals, tend to engage in politics, and how it doesnt really result in achieving their professed political agenda. The suggestions for change are concrete, personal, and motivating, if limited in scope, experience and self-awareness to some extent. (I would have liked to see the author reflect a little more on his existing privileges, access and power, and how they enable him to get more.)But, regardless of the above, it This is a spot-on description of how people, particularly white educated liberals, tend to engage in politics, and how it doesn’t really result in achieving their professed political agenda. The suggestions for change are concrete, personal, and motivating, if limited in scope, experience and self-awareness to some extent. (I would have liked to see the author reflect a little more on his existing privileges, access and power, and how they enable him to get more.)But, regardless of the above, it usually makes the world better when people get out of the political consumerism mindset and develop real relationships with their neighbors. To the extent that this book inspires and guides the reader in that sort of behavior, it’s a force for good.
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  • KP
    January 1, 1970
    Overall, I think this book is excellent for kicking folks (like me!) in the trousers and telling them to get off their ass and actually DO politics rather than just TALK about politics. I've been slowly piecing together the ways I want to get involved in politics at a local level, and this book cemented some particular ways I wanted to go about it. There are weaknesses in this book, of course; I think he skirts way too much over race and class analysis when it comes to what he calls "political Overall, I think this book is excellent for kicking folks (like me!) in the trousers and telling them to get off their ass and actually DO politics rather than just TALK about politics. I've been slowly piecing together the ways I want to get involved in politics at a local level, and this book cemented some particular ways I wanted to go about it. There are weaknesses in this book, of course; I think he skirts way too much over race and class analysis when it comes to what he calls "political hobbyism" (which is such a great term), and I had been hoping for more on how to work with ones very real righteous anger - something I struggle with - and in transforming it into action. Instead he left that section off with "you should transform it into action", which, well, yeah, but HOW? I will say, the subtitle of this book was TAD misleading: there was less about taking action than I would have liked. But there were many, many excellent sections, and some really good work in there, and I appreciate this book a lot. I read a copy from a library, but I may end up having to purchase a copy so I can reference it when need be. I am currently trying to find a good book on active citizenship and civics for my university's common book program, and while I don't quite know if this is it, I will also be putting it on the reading list for more people to look at. I think it focuses too much on Democrats to be a viable book at my university, but I still think the ideas are good.
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  • Bill West
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars for cluing me into some ways I'm being a total idiot/phony with respect to civic engagement.
  • Marc Campasano
    January 1, 1970
    Good analysis of who is a political hobbyist and why. Beyond that, mostly just a traditional call to get involved. Good analysis of who is a “political hobbyist” and why. Beyond that, mostly just a traditional call to get involved.
  • Phil
    January 1, 1970
    This is a 'just okay' call to action. I am very aware of the rising tendency to treat politics as a hobby without really being engaged. Hersh makes the point well thru sharing a series of stories and experiences he has had as both hobbyist and activist. I felt like it was a bit overdrawn. A good essay perhaps - a good hour interview (first heard this on NPR). Not quite enough to fill a book.
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    I wish Eitan Hersh had been one of my professors when I was getting a political science degree and becoming a nascent political hobbyist. His writing is clear, engaging and very well-organized. I have to assume his lectures are similarly effective. He even offers a summary in conclusion to most of his chapters. In fact, if you just want a summary of the book, read the last page of each chapter. But you would miss a lot more well-researched information, inspiring anecdotes and generally I wish Eitan Hersh had been one of my professors when I was getting a political science degree and becoming a nascent political hobbyist. His writing is clear, engaging and very well-organized. I have to assume his lectures are similarly effective. He even offers a summary in conclusion to most of his chapters. In fact, if you just want a summary of the book, read the last page of each chapter. But you would miss a lot more well-researched information, inspiring anecdotes and generally entertaining writing. In fact, I could learn a thing or two from him about writing and organizing my thoughts. I haven't actually outlined or thought out this review. I'm just rambling off the cuff. I have to acknowledge that this book is naturally self-contradictory. He defines political hobbyists as people who spend their leisure time reading and pontificating on politics. I was constantly aware while reading that I am a liberal political hobbyist spending my leisure time reading a book by a liberal political hobbyist about the dangers of wasting your leisure time being a liberal political hobbyist. At some point, he even acknowledged the strangely "meta" nature of his pursuit.However, his book was an eye-opening call to action, and certainly worth a few hours of your leisure time. The first section defines political hobbyists in more details as people who obsessively follow political news, share and comment on social media, and very conspicuously vote in national elections, but are less involved in local politics. They even donate to political causes and campaigns, but more for self-gratification and literally for selfies than for actual concrete change. Page 82-83 of the hardcover edition nicely summarize his definition. The most important chapters in the first section are instead about people doing the hard work of organizing volunteers, deep canvassing (meaning engaging with voters in a real discussion about their issues and concerns, rather than parroting a script to get out the vote for a specific candidate) or reaching across the aisle and changing people's minds. The second section explains the dangers of political hobbyists: our time would be better spent actually accruing power and making real change and we increase polarization.Moreover, mainstream parties don't want to cede power and messaging to potentially rouge deep canvassers, so they don't encourage grassroots local involvement.His explanation is very lucid about the practices and hazards of political hobbyists. He is an admitted political hobbyist, so his criticism is easier to swallow. As someone who obsessively follows political news and loves to talk politics (mostly with like-minded liberals, of course), I also canvass pretty hard every election season, but he helped encourage me to take it a step further and "deep canvass," which I hope and think I can do with my local Democratic party organization.Some reviews have complained that he doesn't offer enough concrete solutions, or ways to actually "take action and make real change," as the subtitle suggests. This is true, but he also explains and clearly realizes that such actions will look very different for different people in different states. I also have an additional recommendation for anyone who wants to move beyond a political hobby and make a difference in their communities: Join your local Parent Leadership Training Institute (also known in some states as the Family Leadership Training Institute). I went through their 16-week training program last year. I met some wonderful activists in my community and really learned how to affect change at the local level. With their training and Hersh's inspiration, I hope to move beyond being a political hobbyist this year.
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  • Sudharshan Viswanathan
    January 1, 1970
    Civics lessons in India are mostly along the lines of constitution rights, duties, division of power. Government is setup as an entity of the people, for the people and by the people but that's pretty much the end of it. This book provides a new dimension to what politics is - in many ways combining previous knowledge of how organizers like Gandhi and King absorbed people into their fold and exercises the community to wield power for the collective betterment. This book taps into the same spirit Civics lessons in India are mostly along the lines of constitution rights, duties, division of power. Government is setup as an entity of the people, for the people and by the people but that's pretty much the end of it. This book provides a new dimension to what politics is - in many ways combining previous knowledge of how organizers like Gandhi and King absorbed people into their fold and exercises the community to wield power for the collective betterment. This book taps into the same spirit but challenges the reader to move beyond engaging passively with politics by consuming news, and participating in Twitter threads and instead trying to finding out what are ways in which one can participate, engage and affect very tangible outcomes in their own local community. https://www.npr.org/2020/02/20/807758... for someone to get a brief idea about what the book is about.Notes:- Current political involvement more similar to how people support sport teams. Partisanship explained.- Deep canvassing - benefits to listening, vote rates improvement in local elections though examples looked left leaning.- Ability to influence local policies and organize as ways of capturing power.- Low voter turnout among educated people.- Democrats are general donors, republicans are policy donors.- Self gratification driven ideological puritans gaining donations instead of balanced opinions.- Chuck Schumer bowing to pressure, dems miscalculation by indulging emotionally instead of strategy. - I wish the book was more quantitative since the author is a political scientist. More examples of how power should change with electorate size (county/state/national) and develop the subject ab-initio instead of jumping straight to the topics.- Arab spring failure - requirement of a hierarchy to successfully organize a revolution and transition to exercise power in a peaceful way.- Early 20th centry - parties machinery worked on a quid pro quo basis. Jobs and benefits for being politically engaged. Chicago dem party bosses having a machinery which worked to exercise power in a systematic way but still being segregationist. Acquired power can be used in selfish ways to detriment of others. No solution to prevent that. Other examples include NRA, KKK which provide valuable community services in order to translate the community standing to power.- Changing to primary system from conventions removed power from local orgs and centralized in parties lead to lesser participation and more spending in ads and ideological puritanism.- Questions that I had: Politics as a means to an end? What is the government for? Where do you expect private companies to do work and exchange services for money, and where to ask government to step in? - Politics is community service. Community service is power.- Poor people not having enough time to engage in political means.- Author's story to engage in local politics.- Friend comment saying that local politics have a direct say in personal lives, eg transportation, housing, health care than national policy and hence more time to be spent in local politics instead of big ticket items.
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  • Russell Fox
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fine and informative book, which has an even better book within it, not so much struggling to get out as just accidentally revealing itself occasionally as Hersh works out his overall thesis from one chapter to the next. That thesis isn't always clear; Hersh doesn't organize his arguments as well as he should. Still, his two main points pretty easy to figure out. They are: 1) political hobbyism--the tendency to treat political argument, information-sharing, virtue-signaling and This is a fine and informative book, which has an even better book within it, not so much struggling to get out as just accidentally revealing itself occasionally as Hersh works out his overall thesis from one chapter to the next. That thesis isn't always clear; Hersh doesn't organize his arguments as well as he should. Still, his two main points pretty easy to figure out. They are: 1) political hobbyism--the tendency to treat political argument, information-sharing, virtue-signaling and group-rallying primarily in terms of spectacle, something that gives its practitioners a genuine pleasure, even if it is the pleasure of hating on those you disagree with--is genuinely bad for democratic politics, because it both contributes to and legitimates all sorts of structural forces (campaign funding, candidate recruitment, primary polarization, etc.) which depress the ability of elections to actual deliver, through elected representatives, actual accountability to voters, and thus accelerates the decline of representative democracy itself; and 2) the political hobbyists who are the worst offenders, for a variety of economic, historical, and sociological reasons, are people exactly like the book's author: white, college-educated, liberal Democrats.Hersh's argument is not one of political ethics (check out Michael Austin's book for that), but rather a detailed, practical look at who it is, exactly, in need of that refresher in democratic ethics, and how those who need them both act and justify their actions. Hersh's profound frustration with these folks, his own political, racial, and economic class, is pretty obvious, and sometimes viciously snarky, and I think most informed readers will sympathize with him: when you see data that shows how voter turn-out goes up when Democrats are convinced they can be part of a nice progressive victory, but goes down when the options before them are more desperate and less guaranteed, it's hard not to feel little bit of (self-)contempt. But the book isn't all about venting frustration; on the contrary, the majority of the book is filled with positive stories, examples of individuals who have eschewed hobbyism and found ways to build real democratic power. Not all of these stories fit entirely well with the arguments being advanced in any particular chapter; as I noted, the whole book could probably have done with a slight re-organization. Ultimately, though, his overlapping claims and not-always-equally-well-sourced-research support an assertion that is, if not pleasing to the worse angels of our natures, at least intuitively truthful: that, aside from an apparently small number of ideological dead-enders, real political organizing, and thus real democratic power under our representative system, begins with taking with others and showing genuine empathy for their perspectives and needs. That is an assertion we all need to hear.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book quickly over two days. It was written with an audience of well-off, white liberals in mind. People like myself who spend a lot of time reading about politics and consider themselves to be politically engaged, but who are, in fact, not. The author, Eitan Hersh, is a professor of political science at Tufts University. He tells the stories of four people who have amassed real political power not through opining on social media, but through volunteering and engaging locally with I read this book quickly over two days. It was written with an audience of well-off, white liberals in mind. People like myself who spend a lot of time reading about politics and consider themselves to be politically engaged, but who are, in fact, not. The author, Eitan Hersh, is a professor of political science at Tufts University. He tells the stories of four people who have amassed real political power not through opining on social media, but through volunteering and engaging locally with their communities.One of the stories is of Naakh Vysoky, a Jewish immigrant who came to the US in the 1980s when he was 64. By that point in his life, he'd survived persecution by the Nazis and the Soviets. Naakh lives in Brighton where he has organized other immigrants in his housing complex, helping them become citizens, obtain benefits, etc. As a result, in local, state, and federal elections, Naakh can sway about 1000 people to vote the way he recommends. I was already familiar with Naakh's story and his political power, because I'd edited stories about him in the Boston Phoenix, when he was referred to as a "ward boss." The point of Hersh's book is to show that real political power is the ability to win elections, and that people who political scientists consider to be "politically engaged" -- people like myself who read a lot of news and like to talk politics -- don't know the first thing about real political power and how to amass it. He makes the argument that all of the "pop up resistance" organizations that came about in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election are the result of a weak and hollowed Democratic Party that didn't have the capacity to engage with the millions of Americans who wanted to take political action -- many for the first time in their lives -- to bring about change in the 2018 elections. Hersh is kind to those he is skewering throughout the book. He also shares his own journey from online political warrior to local organizer. I started volunteering politically after the 2016 election. First by canvassing in Maine for the Democrat running for Congress against the long-time GOP Congressman. Then by canvassing in New Hampshire for Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign. These activities made me feel better, but left me with the sense that I wasn't really doing anything at all to make a difference. Hersh's book has given me a road map for local political organizing and volunteering going forward.
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  • Alex Herder
    January 1, 1970
    I've always prided myself on being into policy and politics, and this book cut me to the core. Here's a quote: "Summing up the time we spend on politics, it would be hard to describe our behavior as seeking to influence our communities or country. Most of us are engaging to satisfy our own emotional needs and intellectual curiosities. Thats political hobbyism."It turns out that too many people on the left are hobbyists like myself: college-educated, well-meaning, white liberals who really think I've always prided myself on being into policy and politics, and this book cut me to the core. Here's a quote: "Summing up the time we spend on politics, it would be hard to describe our behavior as seeking to influence our communities or country. Most of us are engaging to satisfy our own emotional needs and intellectual curiosities. That’s political hobbyism."It turns out that too many people on the left are hobbyists like myself: college-educated, well-meaning, white liberals who really think a more social democratic system would be better. Only, *we* don't need it so we're not actually fighting for it. Instead, we read a ton and have good debates and conversations with friends and family. If this describes you (it does me) then we are the problem! Or at least, we are some of the problems.The reason hobbyism is bad as opposed to just neutral, is because hobbyists tend to vote. Not all of us do, but we're more regular voters than normal people and many of us even vote in primaries. Given how our party systems work, ideological hobbyist voters drive each parties to the left and right edges of our parties and reward politicians who create a more entertaining spectacle. This counts as much for Elizabeth Warren and her infinite plans (I must have read more than a dozen!) as it does for Trump and his dog whistling. Hersh's point throughout this book is that the purpose of politics is to gain power in the decision-making process. Hobbyism doesn't gain power, and so it is not good politics. Real power comes from organizing and serving those regular people who aren't ideological primary voters. And those people will best respond to people actually demonstrating that they give a shit about them all the time, not just during election cycles. If you're interested in policy but not sure how to make your vision a reality, check this book out. If you're someone who spends too much time on Vox, Fox, Twitter, and certain subreddits, prepare for a harsh wake up call.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Politics is serviceHersh takes a swing at the problem of political conflict that has engulfed our republic. It sure is good to see someone trying to take a bite out of this problem in an empathetic, clearheaded manner. The author brings to bear on the problem a mix of qualitative, real-life examples of people who have made a material difference in people's lives, usually locally, through politics and action. He calls out the problem that too many people engage too much in political hobbyism, Politics is serviceHersh takes a swing at the problem of political conflict that has engulfed our republic. It sure is good to see someone trying to take a bite out of this problem in an empathetic, clearheaded manner. The author brings to bear on the problem a mix of qualitative, real-life examples of people who have made a material difference in people's lives, usually locally, through politics and action. He calls out the problem that too many people engage too much in political hobbyism, which is simply cheering and jeering from the sidelines, instead of taking real political action. He outlines the fascinating origins of how we've created this problem. Finally, through the stories he shares, he suggests a pragmatic approach.What I really liked about the book was its emphasis on action and empathy. Hersh recognizes that at the end of the day our common goals are safety, prosperity, and peace and that conflict usually comes from not understanding "the other side" and that our situation can be improved more through building relationships and communities than by throwing around insults. Yes, this is boring and favors the long term view and exactly what we need instead of a blitz of political news and pointing fingers at everyone. After all, politics is supposed to serve our communities, not lead to violent upheavals.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This may be one of the most important books I have ever read. Basically Hersh is advocating for the return of tranactional local politics where you build good will for your party/political organization by going out and talking to local voters, doing things to help them, etc. He argues this is a way to curb political hobbyism, which is what so many middle class, college-educated white liberals engage in. These people believe everyone wants to debate lofty ideas, when the majority of Americans This may be one of the most important books I have ever read. Basically Hersh is advocating for the return of tranactional local politics where you build good will for your party/political organization by going out and talking to local voters, doing things to help them, etc. He argues this is a way to curb political hobbyism, which is what so many middle class, college-educated white liberals engage in. These people believe everyone wants to debate lofty ideas, when the majority of Americans would be far more impressed with concrete actions in their own communities or even people who would listen to their local concerns. Hobbyists yell into the void and work themselves up, but don't put in the work to engage in meaningful long term change. Showing up to a protest or throwing money at a campaign is easy and it requires a very shallow investment, creating grassroots organizing in your local community is much more difficult and uncomfortable, but much more effective.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    A book about being an effective political being Appreciate this call to action. I also finally concluded that political podcast and cable news consumption will not help me change the world. As the author recommends, I have taken action. Also, like the author, find there is a great deal of trial and error. I became a district leader. I canvas. Make calls. Write post cards. All this is way better than consuming endless news and complaining with friends (which literally made me ill over time). I A book about being an effective political being Appreciate this call to action. I also finally concluded that political podcast and cable news consumption will not help me change the world. As the author recommends, I have taken action. Also, like the author, find there is a great deal of trial and error. I became a district leader. I canvas. Make calls. Write post cards. All this is way better than consuming endless news and complaining with friends (which literally made me ill over time). I too lean into the idea that creating and supporting local community is promising. I have started simply by hosting a local activist group in my home. The group tended to focus conversation and actions on national politics with some canvassing for local candidates. My goal is to steer us increasingly to our local government and local community needs. Relationships are key.
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  • Kerri
    January 1, 1970
    This book was written for people like me, whose primary form of political engagement involved interacting with a screen, voting, making occasional donations, and sporadically attending rallies or other one-time events. Id always felt like I should be doing more, so Hersch message immediately resonated with me. He makes a convincing argument for deeper participation in politics and gives examples of what that might look like for those of us who dont know how to begin. It strengthened my This book was written for people like me, whose primary form of political engagement involved interacting with a screen, voting, making occasional donations, and sporadically attending rallies or other one-time events. I’d always felt like I should be doing more, so Hersch’ message immediately resonated with me. He makes a convincing argument for deeper participation in politics and gives examples of what that might look like for those of us who don’t know how to begin. It strengthened my pre-existing resolve to make a career change into politics, which I have since been fortunate to do. I hope I can convince some of my friends to read this book. Ultimately, if you are someone who follows politics but don’t feel that the way you participate is making a real difference, this is a good book for you.
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  • Kawai
    January 1, 1970
    There are nuggets of inspiring, moving, and thought-provoking information sprinkled throughout this book, but it feels like it lacks an engaging structure to convey that information. It's a bit disjointed and, at times, seems anecdotal (even though there's strong research backing most claims). I found this book at its most convincing and inspiring when it turned to profiles of everyday people who had made changes in their lives to support the growth, organization, and empowerment of their own There are nuggets of inspiring, moving, and thought-provoking information sprinkled throughout this book, but it feels like it lacks an engaging structure to convey that information. It's a bit disjointed and, at times, seems anecdotal (even though there's strong research backing most claims). I found this book at its most convincing and inspiring when it turned to profiles of everyday people who had made changes in their lives to support the growth, organization, and empowerment of their own communities. Those stories alone--when placed against the context of the larger considerations Hersh supplies--are worth the price of admission.
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  • Ryan Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Uff reading this book felt like a personal indictment. I'm sure it will step on many of your toes as well, and in the best way possible. I reflect back on all the wasted hours and energy of political armchair activism and social media outrage that I've participated in and realize how long overdue and urgent this book is. I come away from reading Eitan Hersh's insights and suggestions for meaningful and lasting engagement feeling inspired to graduate beyond mere political hobbyism and to start Uff reading this book felt like a personal indictment. I'm sure it will step on many of your toes as well, and in the best way possible. I reflect back on all the wasted hours and energy of political armchair activism and social media outrage that I've participated in and realize how long overdue and urgent this book is. I come away from reading Eitan Hersh's insights and suggestions for meaningful and lasting engagement feeling inspired to graduate beyond mere political hobbyism and to start connecting more with voters in my community, and to do my part to improve the actual foundations of political power.
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  • Daniel Cornwall
    January 1, 1970
    As something of a political hobbyist myself, I found this book persuasive and appreciated that it offered case studies of how not to be a hobbyist. It is well documented with notes and bibliography and has a good index.A lot of the book comes down to "stop reading, start doing." Or at least stop obsessing over national level news and shift that into local and state politics. Interesting background on how politics became a spectator sport and how that has hurt our country.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    I came to this from Ezra Kleins book, "Why we're Polorized". I read that one twice and will do the same here. It's an eye opening look at the causes, consequences and remedies for political hobbyism (I'm guilty). The success stories of people using political action to reach ends (power) were inspired. This is easy to read, timely, and critical in the current environment- not just for our next election but for the success of our long experiment in our lifetime.
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  • John Hopkins
    January 1, 1970
    At last I have a name for my friends who rant at Fox News but won't join me to canvass our precinct. I won't tell them they're hobbyists, but at least I understand them better. Professor Hersh's book ends on a welcome and hopeful note for readers who see the potential of politics to help people as well as to mobilize voters in the weeks before an election.
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  • Rick
    January 1, 1970
    Most important, impressive, and helpful book Ive read with regard to our political system. Anyone with even a casual interest in local, county, state, or federal government, officials, and policies can benefit from reading this book. I read a library copy, but bought a copy to keep for future reference and to research the numerous references. Most important, impressive, and helpful book I’ve read with regard to our political system. Anyone with even a casual interest in local, county, state, or federal government, officials, and policies can benefit from reading this book. I read a library copy, but bought a copy to keep for future reference and to research the numerous references.
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  • Kyle Lusby
    January 1, 1970
    Great read on the passivity of political hobbyism and how to counter it with real action in the community to effect real change. A reminder that political commentary on social media is lazy and contributes very little to real political movement in any direction.
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  • Ietrio
    January 1, 1970
    A vague guide about how you, the reader, should spend time, energy and lots of money to make the establishment stronger. Now, maybe you'll be one of the lucky few that make a good living out of this, but the goal is to make the state stronger and not you.
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  • Maura MacLean
    January 1, 1970
    As a political hobbyist, Ive denied the relationship between community service and political power; Ive fueled bad behavior of politicians who seek to feed moral outrage for continued attention. We have options this book lays bare.... As a political hobbyist, I’ve denied the relationship between community service and political power; I’ve fueled bad behavior of politicians who seek to feed moral outrage for continued attention. We have options this book lays bare....
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  • Nathan Hoyt
    January 1, 1970
    The explanation of what political hobbyism really hit home to me and made me think about what I do as far as my political efforts.The rest of the book is good, and gives good examples of how to actually have more political power.
  • Happy Skywalker
    January 1, 1970
    I am super jazzed up by this book. I think it would be awesome if everyone read this, and then took action to make change in line with their ethics!
  • Adam
    January 1, 1970
    The political kick in the pants I needed.
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