The Wall Street Journal Names Why Congress as a 2023 Best Book in Politics

07 December, 2023
Philip Wallach

The Wall Street Journal has named Why Congress as one of the best books on politics written in 2023. In the Journal, Barton Swaim writes,

“Why Congress”—no question mark, no subtitle—is perhaps the most important book on politics published in 2023. In recent years an assemblage of liberal writers has argued that Congress’s troubles began with the partisan rancor of House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995—curiously, the first year since 1954 in which the House was not controlled by Democrats. Mr. Wallach studiously avoids partisan point-scoring, but his analysis makes clear that the real decline began in the ’70s, when “neo-Wilsonian” liberals, having grown impatient with the messiness of transactional politics, imposed a series of what they considered to be “democratic” reforms. The reformers dispersed power to subcommittees, put more votes on the record and began limiting campaign contributions. These and related measures were meant to make Congress more answerable to the public. In practice, they gave members more opportunities to grandstand, sharpened ideological differences between the parties and encouraged the idea—in the public and the political class—that compromise is a sign of corruption. Mr. Wallach’s subsequent analysis is clearly and cogently written.”

Read Swaim’s praise of the book in The Wall Street Journal.