The Betrayal: How Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans Abandoned America
By Ira Shapiro
In two previous highly regarded books on the U.S. Senate, Ira Shapiro chronicled the institution from its apogee in the 1970s through its decline in the decades since. Now, Shapiro turns his gaze to how the Senate responded to the challenges posed by the Trump administration and its prospects under President Biden. The Founding Fathers gave the U.S. Senate many functions, but it had one fundamental responsibility—its raison d’etre: to provide the check against a dangerous president who threatened our democracy. Two hundred and thirty years later, when Donald Trump, a potential authoritarian, finally reached the White House, the Senate should have served as both America’s first and last lines of defense. Instead, we had the nightmare scenario: today’s Senate, reduced through a long period of decline to a hyper-partisan, gridlocked shadow of its former self, was unable to meet its fundamental responsibility. Shapiro documents the pivotal challenges facing the Senate during the Trump administration, arguing that the body’s failure to provide leadership represents the most catastrophic failure of government in American history. The last section of the book covers the Senate’s performance during President Biden’s first year in office and looks forward to the 2022 Senate elections and beyond.
Broken: Can the Senate Save Itself and the Country?
By Ira Shapiro
While the hyper-partisanship in Washington that has stunned the world has been building for decades, Ira Shapiro argues that the U.S. Senate has suffered most acutely from the loss of its political center.
In Broken, Ira Shapiro, a former senior Senate staffer and author of the critically-acclaimed book The Last Great Senate, offers an expert’s account of some of the most prominent battles of the past decade and lays out what must be done to restore the Senate’s lost luster. Shapiro places the Senate at “ground zero for America’s political dysfunction”--the institution that has failed the longest and the worst. Because the Senate, at its best, represented the special place where the Democrats and Republicans worked together to transcend ideological and regional differences and find common ground, its decline has intensified the nation’s polarization, by institutionalizing it at the highest level. Shapiro documents this decline and evaluates the prospects of restoration that could provide a way out of the polarized morass that has engulfed Congress.
With a narrative that runs right through the first year of the Trump presidency, Broken will be essential reading for all concerned about the state of American politics and the future of our country.
The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis
By Ira Shapiro
Journalists have called the U.S. Senate an empty chamber; politicians have lamented that the institution is broken—yet the Senate was once capable of greatness. Senators of the 1960s and 1970s overcame southern opposition to civil rights, passed Great Society legislation, and took the lead in opposing the Vietnam War and holding Richard Nixon accountable for the abuses of Watergate. The Last Great Senate is a vivid portrait of the statesmen who helped steer America during the crisis years of the late 1970s, transcending partisanship and overcoming procedural roadblocks that have all but strangled the Senate since their departure.