Citizen’s Book Club

‘What is the Citizen’s Book Club?’

The Citizen’s Book Club was the product of curiosity and frustration. The curiosity born of late-night, sometimes beery conversations with friends well-read in history and philosophy; the frustration derived from watching politicians and talking heads tell us what the Founders thought, or what the constitution means, when it’s clear they haven’t read anything longer than the talking points someone just handed them.

Fewer clichés. More wisdom. If we take a closer look at our history and the ideas that powered it, if we dust off these old works of genius and engage with hard questions, we might just find a way out of our political deadlock.

Between now and the fall, we will hold six sessions of the Book Club, centered on six critical questions for 2012:

1.     What defines American democracy?

2.     Why isn’t our system working today?

3.     Can government create a job?

4.     Is America an empire?

5.     Who can I marry, what can I smoke?

6.     How do we fix it?

In each session we’ll present excerpts from three classic works – Jefferson to Keynes, Macchiavelli to Martin Luther King – which open a path into the main question, and provoke discussion on what the text means for 2012. Each excerpt will be a single-sitting session (15 minutes or less to read), with links to read and learn more. After each excerpt we invite you to give your ‘Vox Populi’, your reaction and sense of how these words from the past matter today.

Our goal at the end of the Club is to create an interactive e-book with the texts, our introductory notes (cross-published, if all goes well, on the Huffington Post), and a selection of your ‘Voces Populorum’ (the plural of ‘vox populi’, and yes, one of us is a Latin nerd).

So many classics, so little time. Let’s make it a grand conversation.