Americans have fought and died for the right to vote. Yet the world’s oldest continuously operating democracy guarantees no one, not even citizens, the opportunity to elect a government. In this rousing work, the bestselling author of The Case for Impeachment calls attention to the founders’ crucial error: leaving the franchise to the discretion of individual states.
For most of US history, America’s political leaders have considered suffrage not a natural right but a privilege restricted by wealth, sex, race, residence, literacy, criminal conviction, and citizenship. As a result, the right to vote has both expanded and contracted over time, depending on political circumstances. In the nineteenth century, states eliminated economic qualifications for voting, but the ideal of a white man’s republic persisted through much of the twentieth century. And today, voter identification laws, political gerrymandering, registration requirements, felon disenfranchisement, and voter purges deny many millions of American citizens the opportunity to express their views at the ballot box.
We cannot blame the founders alone for America’s embattled vote. Allan Lichtman, who has testified in more than ninety voting rights cases, notes that subsequent generations have failed to establish suffrage as a universal right. The players in the struggle for the vote have changed over time, but the arguments remain familiar. Voting restrictions impose a grave injustice on the many disenfranchised Americans and stunt the growth of our democracy.
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“A disturbing account of American political leaders who have, since the beginning of the republic, worked to limit the franchise…An alarming, important, perhaps even essential book.”
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About Allan J. Lichtman
Allan J. Lichtman is Distinguished Professor of History at American University in Washington, DC, and formerly associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the Department of History. He is the author or coauthor of eight books, including most recently, FDR and the Jews (with Richard Breitman), which won the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish History, and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice pick and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in Maryland.
About Dennis Holland
Holland is a voice actor with an extensive background from commercials for
Lucky Charms, Sam Adams, Panasonic, American Express, and others, to audiobooks
by authors such as Anita Shreve, William Gibson, and Douglas Brinkley. He
previously worked as a talent representative for television sports and news