Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy

BY DANIEL G. NEWMAN, ART BY GEORGE O’CONNOR

FROM MACMILLAN PUBLISHING / FIRST SECOND BOOKS

“Timely and devastating to read when the country is facing a global pandemic as well as nationwide demonstrations for racial justice.”

Booklist

Despite our immense political divisions, Americans are nearly united in our belief that something is wrong with our government: It works for the wealthy and powerful, but not for anyone else. Unrig exposes the twisted roots of our broken democracy and highlights the heroic efforts of those unrigging the system to return power to We the People.

This stirring nonfiction graphic novel by democracy reform leader Daniel G. Newman and artist George O’Connor takes readers behind the scenes—from the sweaty cubicles where senators dial corporate CEOs for dollars, to lavish retreats where billionaires boost their favored candidates, to the map rooms where lawmakers scheme to handpick their voters. Unrig also highlights surprising solutions that limit the influence of big money and redraw the lines of political power.

If you're overwhelmed by negative news and despairing for the direction of our country, Unrig is a tonic that will restore your faith and reveal the path forward to fix our broken democracy.

Praise for Unrig

“By clearly illustrating the toughest problems that threaten our system of government, Unrig has the potential to be this generation’s most influential book on American democracy. It is a must read.”

– Spencer Overton, Professor of Law, The George Washington University and author of Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression

Fueled with an urgency that should initiate debate and inspire action.”

– Publishers Weekly

 

“Everyone knows that our democracy is broken, but what’s less clear is how we got into this mess and what we should do about it. Newman’s Unrig explains both in an accessible and entertaining way, leaving the reader equipped and inspired to get involved in unrigging our democracy and putting it to work for people and the planet.”

– Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA 

 

Unrig is, simply, the unmissable book. Daniel Newman—a national treasure and a tireless defender of democracy—explains in graphic style and easy-to-follow language, how democracy’s tools are made ‘boring’ and opaque on purpose—how the system undermines candidates who just want to serve the people—and, most inspiringly of all, what we can all do to fix this. This should be required reading (and luckily, it’s engaging, powerful reading) for every student and every citizen.”

– Naomi Wolf, bestselling author of The Beauty Myth and The End of America

 

“The most fundamental issue in politics today is the institutional (and legal!) corruption that plagues the electoral system. With their engaging, entertaining, and enlightening graphic novel, Unrig, Daniel Newman and George O’Connor transform this abstract subject into compelling real-world stories—and give us dramatic and inspiring tales of champions of democracy fighting for and implementing practical solutions. It’s a great read—with important lessons for any citizen who gives a damn.”

– David Corn, Washington bureau chief, Mother Jones

 

“Can a graphic novel save America from the billionaires and giant corporations that have hijacked our democracy? Thanks to Daniel G. Newman and George O’Connor the answer is an emphatic “YES!” But only if enough of us read this great new book and take action.”

– John Sellers, co-founder of The Other 98%

 

“The struggle for reform must be waged in every language — including the most fun! This brilliant book explains the need and urgency for reform powerfully and with great insight.”

– Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law professor and bestselling author of Republic, Lost

 

“Daniel Newman and George O’Connor’s gripping account of the battles to fix our democracy paints a graphic picture of this ongoing struggle. This informative and inspiring must-read spotlights the movement of modern-day American patriots on the front lines of the fight to save our democracy.”

– Greg Moore, longtime voting rights activist and former Executive Director, NAACP National Voter Fund

 

An urgent gem of a graphic novel. A smart, fun, artful guide to how government got so broken and—even more important—how we can fix our ailing democracy so that it finally works for all the people. Read Unrig asap!”

– Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

 

“Fixing our country’s most pressing issues is going to require working together. Unrig is not only fun and clarifying, it highlights opportunities to improve our democracy that people from across the political spectrum can get behind. That is exciting!”

– Joan Blades, co-founder, MoveOn.org, LivingRoomConversations.org, and MomsRising.org

 

Unrig is entertaining, alarming, and actionable as it diagnoses the pressing problems in our democracy. The unique combination of understandable explanations and powerful art make Unrig a one-of-a-kind tool to improve our country. Anyone who wants a more accountable and responsive government, while having fun along the way, should read this book.”

– Ann Ravel, former Chair, Federal Election Commission

 

“Daniel Newman gives us a solidly researched look at our governing system, its myriad broken parts and ways those parts might be fixed. His insights and George O’Connor’s upbeat art make the situation seem surprisingly un-grim.”

– Peter Overby, former Power, Money and Influence Correspondent for National Public Radio

 

“I love it—stories of real citizens making historic change. Unrig enables readers to move from the notion of “dutiful” citizen to taste the excitement of becoming a democracy hero. Yes. I’m hooked!”

– Frances Moore Lappé, bestselling author of Diet for a Small Planet and coauthor of Daring Democracy

 

Unrig shines a critical spotlight on the far-reaching negative results of our current democratic dysfunction, from the ways we fund our elections to the ways district maps are drawn. But Newman doesn’t stop there: By interweaving inspiring, concrete stories of civic action and democratic reform in states and cities across the country, Unrig ultimately provides an urgent blueprint for placing American democracy back into the hands of the voters.”

– Trevor Potter, Founder and President, Campaign Legal Center and former Chair, Federal Election Commission

 

“For Americans exhausted by negative news headlines, partisan battles, and empty promises from elected officials, Unrig is a breath of fresh air. It offers a vivid, clarifying look at our democracy’s challenges and shares inspiring stories of Americans making our government work for everyone.”

– Melanie Sloan, former Executive Director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

 

“Daniel Newman is one of the leading advocates fighting back against the flood of unlimited, undisclosed money in our elections. In Unrig, he skillfully explains the crises plaguing our political system and lays out the solutions that will reinvigorate our democracy.”

– Tiffany Muller, President, End Citizens United

 

Unrig is a fun and appealing way to explain ways to fix our democracy and electoral system. This graphic novel is entertaining while sharing the context and many of the solutions we need.”

– Heather Booth, Organizer, Democracy Partners

“After nearly three decades of electoral reform work, it’s rare to come across something that feels as entirely fresh as Unrig. It’s both inspiring and educational as it details what’s broken with our democracy and how to fix it clearly and creatively. I can’t wait for the new wave of reformers who are sure to respond to its call for action.”

– Rob Richie, President and CEO, FairVote 

 

Unrig powerfully demonstrates the potential of a graphic novel format for teaching citizens about the flaws in our democracy and equipping them to be an active part of the solution.  Lucid, entertaining, and compelling.

– Thomas E. Mann, senior fellow at Brookings and coauthor of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks

Table of Contents

  1. Unrigging the Rules

  2. Congress and Lobbying

  3. Political Money

  4. The Wealth Hoarders

  5. Who Votes

  6. Drawing the Districts

  7. Picking the Winners

  8. Electing a President

  9. The Next Steps for You

Buy Now: AmazonB&NIndieBound

© 2020 text by Daniel G. Newman, art by George O'Connor

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