You Can’t Be President

The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America

288 Pages

Published September 2008

You Can't Be President

About the Book

"This book lays bare the malfunctions of our democracy and the solutions in a superb literary style and a convincing manner." George McGovern, Democratic candidate for President, 1972

It seems like an historic election: A woman almost won the nomination to run for President of the United states—losing to an African-American, who will run against the oldest candidate ever! It’s the realization of one of the core beliefs of our democracy: Anyone can be president.

Or is it? What if a close analysis showed that the candidates were, for the most part, getting their financing from the same corporations and lobbyists … that they all went to the same schools … that their votes were remarkably similarly on most issues …?

In a rollicking piece of journalism based on years of reporting, John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, talks to truly independent candidates—including the first ever post-election interview of Joe Lieberman nemesis Ned Lamont—about what they were up against. He gives the most detailed breakdown yet of campaign financing sources. He analyzes the parameters of the two party system, what the Constitution has to say about that, and how the media treats independent politicians. And he also discusses how all this influences issues of local democracy.

It’s an edgy, fascinating look at the system that’s a must-read to understand whether the most historic election in American history is really going to be about change … or not.


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