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Hardcover | $30.95 Trade | £25.95 | 392 pp. | 6 x 9 in | February 2009 | ISBN: 9780262012959
Paperback | $16.95 Trade | £14.95 | 392 pp. | 6 x 9 in | February 2012 | ISBN: 9780262517560
eBook | $11.95 Trade | February 2012 | ISBN: 9780262257466
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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. 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.

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 shows how ideologically diverse coalitions can emerge on such hot-button topics as extending life by artificial means, 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


“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