|About the Book|
There has never been a more cynical era in American history. Disaffection from government institutions is at an all-time high. Ordinary citizens perceive political leaders to be more manipulative and jaded than ever. In Everyday Knows, WilliamMoreThere has never been a more cynical era in American history. Disaffection from government institutions is at an all-time high. Ordinary citizens perceive political leaders to be more manipulative and jaded than ever. In Everyday Knows, William Chaloupka scrutinizes the cynicism that is our common condition, examining both its uses in the politics of backlash and resentment and its surprisingly positive aspects.Everyday Knows traces cynicism from its classical origins but emphasizes its recent emergence in American culture and politics, following a trajectory form H. L. Mencken to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton. Cutting neatly across ideological divisions, Chaloupka discusses the ways in which cynicism is rooted in all democratic politics, and analyzes the role of the media -- in particular, television news, political ads and speeches, and books such as E. J. Dionnes Why Americans Hate Politics and William Bennetts The Book of Virtues -- in dissecting and encouraging cynicism.Chaloupka describes mass cynicism, which permeates popular culture- outsider cynicism, which is capable of cranky, even violent disruption- and the cynicism of those in power. He argues that those who issue broad pleas for civility or a renewal of community spirit usually misunderstand the cynicism they wish to treat. He also discusses the value of a cheeky, subversive kynicism to evoke the lively democratic practice American society must foster.