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When Your Child Hurts
Defying Empire
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Right to DREAM
A Duel of Giants
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My Sister’s Mother
Invisible Listeners
Mastodons to Mississippians
Exploring American Folk Music

America the FairAmerica the Fair

Using Brain Science to Create a More Just Nation

Dan Meegan

Narrated by Daniel Adam Day

Available from Audible

Book published by Cornell University Press

What makes a person liberal or conservative? Why does the Democratic Party scare off so many possible supporters? When does our "injustice trigger" get pulled, and how can fairness overcome our human need to look for a zero-sum outcome to our political battles?

Tapping into a pop culture zeitgeist linking Bugs Bunny, Taylor Swift, and John Belushi; through popular science and the human brain; to our political predilections, arguments, and distrusts, Daniel Meegan suggests that fairness and equality are key elements missing in today's society. Having crossed the border to take up residency in Canada, Meegan, an American citizen, has seen first-hand how people enjoy as rights what Americans view as privileges. Fascinated with this tension, he suggests that American liberals are just missing the point. If progressives want to win the vote, they need to change strategy completely and champion government benefits for everyone, not just those of lower income. If everyone has access to inexpensive quality health care, open and extensive parental leave, and free postsecondary education, then everyone will be happier and society will be fair. The Left will also overcome an argument of the Right that successfully, though incongruously, appeals to the middle- and upper-middle classes: that policies that help the economically disadvantaged are inherently bad for others.

Making society fair and equal, Meegan argues, would strengthen the moral and political position of the Democratic Party and place it in a position to revive American civic life. Fairness, he writes, should be selfishly enjoyed by everyone.

Dan Meegan is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Guelph.


“There's really a lot to like about America the Fair. It explains psychological constructs and their bearing on policy debate and ideological conflict, drawing engagingly on popular culture. Meegan reveals ground common to both conservatives and liberals, proposing a value frame for the greatest number of voters: fairness.”

—Chris Weber, University of Arizona

America the Fair makes a compelling case that equity-based programs for the middle class are the best way to help those in need. Often these programs, like the U.S. Social Security system, not only ensure a base retirement income for middle-class workers but also have a strong anti-poverty component. And those who have their own health, disability, and income risks covered are more open to provisions that help the truly poor. Every American who cares about the future of our country should read this book.”

—Alicia Munnell, The Center for Retirement Research, author of Falling Short

“What can a Canadian cognitive neuroscientist teach us about American politics? A great deal. With humor and rigor, Dan Meegan explains why our brains are fine-tuned to recoil at 'un-earned' benefits. US policies are stingy not because Americans are, but because these polices' design too often activates our innate unfairness-detector.”

—Jacob Hacker, Yale University, author of The Great Risk Shift

“Once in a while, someone stakes out a new approach to America's perennial problems–in a way that could change the nature of the debate. In 2019 Dan Meegan is that person. With America the Fair he has staked out a 'fourth way' to think about the issues that have split us and offered a provocative playbook for a 2020 presidential candidate. He's a maestro when it comes to assembling his argument in an accessible and humorous way.”

—Steven Brill, author of Tailspin and America's Bitter Pill

“This is not your grandfather's political how-to guide —it's the insightful and telling advice of Dan Meegan about what America could be if Democrats heeded his call to create a more equal and just America with greater opportunity for all.”

—David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of It's Even Worse Than You Think

“Dan Meegan explains why many Americans feel poorly represented by both the Democratic and Republican parties. His sympathetic comprehension of these voters, and his dazzling insights into the cognitive bases for voter behavior and perception, makes America the Fair necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand why politics have become so frustrating.”

—Geoff Kabaservice, Niskanen Center, author of Rule and Ruin

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University Press Audiobooks