Indispensable Enemies – December 2013 Book Club Selection

Indispensable Enemies

Walter Karp wrote Indispensable Enemies: The Politics of Misrule In America in 1973.  It’s a scathing and insightful look at how the two parties operate together to prevent competition.  I first read the book in the 1990’s and was delighted when Steve Richardson, a member of the Election Reform Committee recently read the book and wrote me a note about it.  Steve said, ” It offers a unique and shocking theory of bipartisanship in U.S. politics that might be useful to our movement.”   In this moment of government dysfunction when the American people have lost confidence in our elected officials capacity to move the country forward, I think it will be valuable to read Karp’s book.

You can purchase a copy of Indispensable Enemies on Amazon (used start at $3.95) or from Harper’s Magazine ($14.95).

We will be discussing our selection in a Politics for the People conference call on Sunday, February 9th.  Happy reading and stay tuned for upcoming posts about the book and its author, or better yet, send me your thoughts and questions.

Leave a comment


  1. ramon pena

     /  December 19, 2013

    I am so looking forward to reading this book. I cant believe that I was 7 years old when book was written. Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers were my interests back then. 40 years later I have new interests and looking forward to see what has transcurred from 1973 to 2013.

  2. This is one of my all time favorite political books! And this is one of my favorite lessons: “The reason the great majority of legislative districts are bastions of one party or the other is that both parties act to keep them that way. In a large majority of legislative districts, the abiding policy of one party or the other is to lose deliberately and perpetually. The desire to win elections is not the basic purpose of the political parties, it is not their overriding motive and interest. For the leaders of political parties, trying to win and trying to lose elections are equally useful means to a quite different political end.

    … Insofar as a state party is controlled at all, the sole abiding purpose, the sole overriding interest of those who control it, is to maintain that control. This, not election victory, is the fundamental and unswerving principle of party politics in America …”


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