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Our Culture of Pandering

Our Culture of Pandering

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Paul Simon


Paperback (Other formats: NLEB)
224 pages, 5 x 8.75


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About the Book

As we broaden our views, embrace our differences, foster advancements in science and technology, and collaboratively strengthen the political, social, and educational underpinnings from which we build informed and productive lives, we have much to be proud of as a nation and as a people.

But we are tempted—particularly during times of political unrest and unbridled patriotism—to ignore the far-reaching repercussions of a society that caters to money and power. In Our Culture of Pandering, former U.S. Senator Paul Simon interrogates the arenas of politics, media, religion, and education to decry the disturbing practices that confuse public service with profit-making ventures or popularity contests, that compromise the best interests of the broader population to appease a powerful few. Boldly and eloquently contributing to a cumulative understanding of how we can build a sturdier, more ethical foundation for the future, Simon suggests proactive, long-term solutions to the problems that threaten our country’s moral, financial, and intellectual well-being—problems that are increasingly exacerbated by our culture of pandering. 

Lest we grow complacent and our nation static, Simon urges us to demand more from the political candidates who chase dollar signs and cater to polls, to raise our expectations of local and national media outlets that recycle gossip and peddle scandals while foreign policy and international news receive back-page treatment or no treatment at all. He asks us to consider the implications of churches that spend more money remodeling their buildings than helping those in need within their own communities and throughout the world, and he presses us to acknowledge the staggering, long-term consequences of schools that drop their academic standards to sustain their reputations and maintain funding.

Our Culture of Pandering is a stalwart and earnest call to action from a steadfast and trusted advocate of progressive public policy. Leavened with altruism and rich with compassion for citizens of America and beyond, present and future, this important and cautioning treatise advocates genuine leadership in the realms of politics, media, religion, and education. In his trademark lucid and synoptic style, Simon supplements up-to-date examples of pandering in our society from a breadth of sources with commentary and interpretive wisdom garnered from a lifetime of public service.


The late Paul Simon served as the founding director of the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He also taught courses in political science, journalism, and history. Prior to leaving the U.S. Senate and joining the SIUC faculty in 1997, Simon ranked as the senior senator from Illinois. In the 104th Congress, he served on the budget, labor and human resources, judiciary, and Indian affairs committees. He was the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including Freedom’s Champion: Elijah Lovejoy, Tapped Out: The Coming World Crisis in Water and What We Can Do About It, and P.S. The Autobiography of Paul Simon.


“Paul Simon, in another of his powerful treatises, has written the guidebook for anyone interested in the future of our democracy. It exalts the element too often missing in those who would lead us in commerce, government, the media, or even in religion and education. The element is couragecourage to follow one’s conscience rather than yielding to self-serving ambition in the pursuit of personal success. He presents as well a veritable encyclopedia of our nation’s most pressing problems. It is a challenging call to arms for citizen participation in solving them.”—Walter Cronkite