Fighting Political Gridlock: How States Shape Our Nation and Our Lives

Front Cover
University of Virginia Press, 2021 - History - 298 pages

In this profoundly polarized era, the nation has been transfixed on the politics of Washington and its seemingly impenetrable gridlock. Many of the decisions that truly affect people's lives, however, are being made not on the federal level but in the states. Faced with Washington's political standoff, state governments are taking action on numerous vital issues, often impacting citizens and their communities far more than the decision makers in D.C. Despite this, few Americans really understand their state governments or the issues they address. In Fighting Political Gridlock, David Toscano reveals how the states are working around the impasse in Washington and how their work is increasingly shaping society.

Long a central figure in one of the most important legislative bodies in the nation, the Virginia House of Delegates, Toscano brings a unique expertise to this urgent and timely discussion. Beginning with an analysis of state responses to COVID-19, including the processes and consequences of declaring states of emergency, he goes on to detail how various states are attacking issues in different ways-from education and voting to criminal justice and climate change-and provides a broad overview of how state actions affect our system of federalism. Toscano concludes with a call to action and civic engagement, including suggestions for how citizens and public officials can revitalize American democracy.

About the author (2021)

David J. Toscano is a veteran of twenty-five years of public service. He served as a city councilor and as Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, and was then elected to the seat once held by Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia House of Delegates. He served in that body for fourteen years, including a seven-year stint as Democratic Leader. Since his retirement from the General Assembly in 2020, he has returned to practicing law in Charlottesville.

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