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How to Fix our Broken Democracy

Daniel G. Newman with art by George O'Connor

Despite our immense political divisions, Americans are nearly united in our belief that something is wrong with our government: It works for the wealthy and powerful, but not for anyone else. Unrig exposes the twisted roots of our broken democracy and highlights the heroic efforts of those unrigging the system to return power to We the People.

This stirring nonfiction graphic novel by democracy reform leader Daniel G. Newman and artist George O’Connor takes readers behind the scenes—from the sweaty cubicles where senators dial corporate CEOs for dollars, to lavish retreats where billionaires boost their favored candidates, to the map rooms where lawmakers scheme to handpick their voters. Unrig also highlights surprising solutions that limit the influence of big money and redraw the lines of political power.

If you're overwhelmed by negative news and despairing for the direction of our country, Unrig is a tonic that will restore your faith and reveal the path forward to fix our broken democracy.


Praise for Unrig

“Unrig is, simply, the unmissable book. Daniel Newman—a national treasure and a tireless defender of democracy—explains in graphic style and easy-to-follow language, how democracy’s tools are made ‘boring’ and opaque on purpose—how the system undermines candidates who just want to serve the people—and, most inspiringly of all, what we can all do to fix this. This should be required reading (and luckily, it’s engaging, powerful reading) for every student and every citizen.”

—Naomi Wolf, bestselling author of The Beauty Myth and The End of America

“By clearly illustrating the toughest problems that threaten our system of government, Unrig has the potential to be this generation’s most influential book on American democracy. It is a must read.”

—Spencer Overton, Professor of Law, The George Washington University and author of Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression

“Everyone knows that our democracy is broken, but what’s less clear is how we got into this mess and what we should do about it. Newman’s Unrig explains both in an accessible and entertaining way, leaving the reader equipped and inspired to get involved in unrigging our democracy and putting it to work for people and the planet.”

—Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

“Can a graphic novel save America from the billionaires and giant corporations that have hijacked our democracy? Thanks to Daniel G. Newman and George O’Connor the answer is an emphatic ‘YES!’ But only if enough of us read this great new book and take action.”

—John Sellers, co-founder of The Other 98%

“This brilliant book explains the need and urgency for reform powerfully and with great insight.”

—Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law professor and bestselling author of Republic, Lost

“Daniel Newman and George O’Connor’s gripping account of the battles to fix our democracy paints a graphic picture of this ongoing struggle. This informative and inspiring must-read spotlights the movement of modern-day American patriots on the front lines of the fight to save our democracy.”

—Greg Moore, former Executive Director, NAACP National Voter Fund

“I love it—stories of real citizens making historic change. Unrig enables readers to move from the notion of ‘dutiful’ citizen to taste the excitement of becoming a democracy hero. Yes. I’m hooked!”

—Frances Moore Lappé, bestselling author of Diet for a Small Planet

“An urgent gem of a graphic novel. A smart, fun, artful guide to how government got so broken and—even more important—how we can fix our ailing democracy so that it finally works for all the people. Read Unrig ASAP!”

—Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

“Fixing our country’s most pressing issues is going to require working together. Unrig is not only fun and clarifying, it highlights opportunities to improve our democracy that people from across the political spectrum can get behind. That is exciting!”

—Joan Blades, co-founder, MoveOn.org, LivingRoomConversations.org, and MomsRising.org

Unrig is entertaining, alarming, and actionable as it diagnoses the pressing problems in our democracy. The unique combination of understandable explanations and powerful art make Unrig a one-of-a-kind tool to improve our country. Anyone who wants a more accountable and responsive government, while having fun along the way, should read this book.”

—Ann Ravel, former Chair, Federal Election Commission

“The most fundamental issue in politics today is the institutional (and legal!) corruption that plagues the electoral system. With their engaging, entertaining, and enlightening graphic novel, Unrig, Daniel Newman and George O’Connor transform this abstract subject into compelling real-world stories—and give us dramatic and inspiring tales of champions of democracy fighting for and implementing practical solutions. It’s a great read—with important lessons for any citizen who gives a damn.”

—David Corn, Washington bureau chief, Mother Jones

“Daniel Newman gives us a solidly researched look at our governing system, its myriad broken parts and ways those parts might be fixed. His insights and George O’Connor’s upbeat art make the situation seem surprisingly un-grim.”

—Peter Overby, former Power, Money and Influence Correspondent for National Public Radio

“Unrig powerfully demonstrates the potential of a graphic novel format for teaching citizens about the flaws in our democracy and equipping them to be an active part of the solution. Lucid, entertaining, and compelling.”

—Thomas E. Mann, senior fellow at Brookings and co-author of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks

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About the Creators

Daniel G. Newman is a national expert on government accountability and money in politics. He is president and co-founder of MapLight, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes transparency and political reform. Newman has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including CNN, CBS, MSNBC, FOX Business News, and NPR. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

George O'Connor is a New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator of the Olympians series as well as such graphic novels as Journey into Mohawk Country and Ball Peen Hammer. In addition to his graphic novel career, O'Connor has published several children's picture books. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.