The Gardens of Democracy

Book Cover: The Gardens of Democracy

Modern American life has become marked by divisive conversations about everything from racial and social justice to fighting the ever-widening income gap, environmental conservation, and how we might collaborate as active citizens to heal our democracy. In a post-election world with widespread political upheaval, a deep wellspring of civic engagement and collective action is beginning to emerge.

In The Gardens of Democracy, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer outline an argument for why our most basic assumptions about these topics need updating for the 21st century. For those finding their voice for the first time, this book offers a conceptual roadmap for a way forward—for what they are resisting, why they resist, and for the better democracy they want to grow.

Liu and Hanauer’s ideas are simple but revolutionary: true “self-interest” is incomplete without tending to the shared best interests of the national community. They illustrate that to model positivity, good citizenship, and ensure liberty and justice for all, we must achieve compromise by reaching across the aisle and putting the power to execute programs back in the hands of individuals, not big government. True freedom does not live in isolation, and we must redefine how we view prosperity in order to move from a dog-eat-dog mentality that perpetuates the top 1 percent to a communal and inclusive movement that illustrates that we’re all better off when we’re all better off.

Timely, inspiring, and highly charged, The Gardens of Democracy is a much-needed call to action for citizens to embrace their roles in a democratic society.

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Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we'd run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It's exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O'Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan's #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let's the world see that there are no wizards...only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.