Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
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Born in Rhode Island and raised in New York and Georgia, Mark Prior now lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter and, for his “survival job,” as a stagehand and lighting technician.
Mark Prior believes that government in the US is becoming (has become?) dysfunctional and explains the reason for this as lack of involvement. In his words, “America has become a nation of political couch potatoes and that's what's screwing us up!” In this book he discusses the political process, his suggestions for turning things around, and some specific areas where he believes we’re headed the wrong direction with his take on the reasons we’re headed that way and some suggested solutions.
Couch Potato Politics has numerous issues that should have been fixed in the final polish of copy editing and proofreading and weren’t. The most common are extra or extraneous words (“… choosing of that date to to make their point …” or “… an area populated by primarily by …”) and homonym errors (peace vs piece, bare vs bear, isle versus aisle, and reign versus rein are a few examples I saw multiple times). Unless you’re a reader very tolerant of these kinds of issues, you’ll find yourself tripping over a sentence often. This problem is the primary reason for the low ranking and is something that could potentially be fixed.
However, if you feel that a lack of polish doesn’t matter if the story being told or, in this case, the message being delivered is worthwhile, then you might want to consider this book. If you aren’t happy with government, but aren’t involved in making things better, you probably should.
Although originally conceived as a series of essays on the politics of various subjects, you’ll find, as the author did, that there is a theme running through these essays which I’ll summarize as “if we sit on our couch and don’t get involved in politics, we’ll get what the people who are involved want instead.” And as he points out numerous times, what we end up with is a combination of solutions dominated by ideas from the more extreme ends of the political spectrum, laws beholden to special interests, or inaction when action is needed due to partisan gridlock.
Prior describes his politics as “moderate” (neither clearly to the right or left) although tending to be slightly conservative on fiscal matters and a touch liberal on questions of social policy. However, he makes the point that you have to investigate and consider each issue on its own merits, and you’ll see that on some issues he argues for a solution that goes against his natural leanings while explaining why. I would expect the vast majority of people would agree with Prior’s take on policy because, almost by definition, most people are going to fall in the middle of the political spectrum. Prior is also not a political commentator or acknowledged expert on the subject. He’s just a regular guy, maybe a lot like you, who has done what he believes you need to do for yourself, investigate and let your voice be heard.
Do you consider yourself in the mainstream and mostly ignore politics? Is it because you don’t think you can make a difference, assume it will all work out without you, or don’t see why you should care? If so, this book is meant for you. It delivers a message you need to receive and take to heart. I only wish it did so with more polish.
Rare instances of adult language.
Numerous proofing and copy editing issues.
Rating: *** Three stars