Skip navigation
Hardcover | $29.95 Trade | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780262012959 | 392 pp. | 6 x 9 in | February 2009
Paperback | $14.95 Trade | £10.95 | ISBN: 9780262517560 | 392 pp. | 6 x 9 in | February 2012

Essential Info

Of Related Interest

Beyond Red and Blue

How Twelve Political Philosophies Shape American Debates


On any given night cable TV news will tell us how polarized American politics is: Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are from Canada. But in fact, writes Peter Wenz in Beyond Red and Blue, Americans do not divide neatly into two ideological camps of red/blue, Republican/Democrat, right/left. If they did, what could explain Republicans who oppose the Patriot Act and support gay marriage, or liberals and conservatives who agree over genetic engineering? In real life, as Wenz shows, different ideologies can converge on certain issues; people from the right and left can support the same policy for different reasons. Thus, for example, libertarian-leaning Republicans can oppose the Patriot Act's encroachment on personal freedom and social conservatives can support gay marriage on the grounds that it strengthens the institution of marriage. Liberals might oppose genetic engineering on environmental grounds, conservatives on religious grounds.

Wenz maps out twelve political philosophies—ranging from theocracy and free-market conservatism to feminism and cosmopolitanism—on which Americans draw when taking political positions. He then turns his focus to some of America's most controversial issues and, through in-depth discussions of fourteen of them, shows how ideologically diverse coalitions can emerge. These hot-button issues include extending life by artificial means (as in the Terri Schiavo case), the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, affirmative action, abortion, same-sex marriage, health care, immigration, and globalization.

Awareness of these twelve political philosophies, Wenz argues, can help activists enlist allies, citizens better understand politics and elections, and all of us define our own political identities.

About the Author

Peter S. Wenz is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Springfield and University Scholar at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Beyond Red and Blue: How Twelve Political Philosophies Shape American Debates (MIT Press) and other books.


“ Beyond Red and Blue should be considered a primary resource towards taking your seat as an informed citizen.” — George Russell, PopMatters

“The competing voices in the American political arena are given their due in this nuanced tour of some of the most chewed-over issues of the day” —Publishers Weekly


"Whether your political comfort zone is on the right, on the left, or somewhere in the middle, Beyond Red and Blue is going to make you squirm. Drawing from life experiences and familiar headlines, Peter Wenz finds twelve lines of political DNA in America. Beyond Red and Blue tackles tough issues from euthanasia to torture to global trade. Don't expect Wenz to button up every chapter with sound-bite certainty. His conclusions may make you cheer or curse, but they are sure to make you think."
Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois

"Wenz has written an engaging and profound analysis of the diversity of ideological worldviews in modern America. He convincingly demonstrates that the bi-modal ideological frame of conservative versus liberal, dominant in contemporary commentary, fails to describe the complexity of competing ideas informing public policy debates. He documents this through expert dissections of a wide range of public policy issues, from the controversialsuch as abortionto the wonkishsuch as wages and taxes. One has to be impressed with his mastery of both so many different policy areas and the political ideas in contention. This book should be required reading for those wishing to better understand the political ideas animating the critical policy issues on America's agenda."
William E. Hudson, Professor of Political Science, Providence College

"The most significant contributions of Peter Wenz's book are his illustrations of the practical complexity of the fourteen social and political issues facing our nation, as well as his twelve political philosophies to increase our understanding of these issues. After reading Wenz's account, people should feel that they now have the resources to talk about these issues and begin to take a stand."
James P. Sterba, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame