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Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for Americaby Robert B. Reich
Synopses & Reviews
From Robert B. Reich, passionate believer in American democracy, and public servant in both Democratic and Republican administrations–an urgent call to liberals to reclaim their political clout. Reason is a guide to confronting and derailing what he sees as the mounting threat to American liberty, prosperity, and security posed by the radical conservatives–Radcons, as he calls them–whose agenda has dominated public discourse and radically affected government action since the election, by a minority vote, of George W. Bush.
It is an agenda that turns American tradition upside down–embracing “preemptive” war, disrupting essential alliances, reacting to terrorism by weakening our civil liberties, distorting our economy by endowing the rich with tax breaks while cutting social services, attempting to hunt down immorality in bedrooms rather than in boardrooms, where corporate malfeasance is still not legally prevented from chomping away at ordinary American earnings.
Reich offers a bold plan for defeating this politics of fear and favor–whose defining gesture is to equate dissent with treason–and for reinstating the traditional American politics of reason.
He calls on liberals to close ranks and maintain a permanent platform that can grow in power.
He provides clear answers to the barrage of accusations (of communism, of elitism, of anti-Americanism) with which Radcons have been pummeling liberals for at least two decades. He analyzes the propaganda savvy, the commitment, and the organization of the Radcons, and what liberals can learn from each.
He suggests how liberals can wrest the sole ownership of patriotism from the Radcons–there’s more to it than flag waving.
He calls on liberals to recognize their strengths. He wants them to remember their unfaltering protection of the central American invention: a society (ours was the first in history) that allows no aristocracy and hence belongs to all its citizens. And he wants liberals to recall how, twice in the last century, liberalism’s dedicated reforms rescued American free enterprise from its own excesses: first from the robber barons in the early 1900s, then in the depression-devastated 1930s.
He demonstrates, with quotations from the most respected opinion polls, how far the radical conservative agenda is from representing the national will. And he tells why he believes that once again–assuming the readiness to take action–American liberals are on the verge of winning the battle for America.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Today's conservatives ('Radcons') are reckless, vituperative extremists, deeply at odds with the caution and civility of traditional conservatives like Edmund Burke, argues Reich (Locked in the Cabinet), Clinton's first secretary of labor. Liberals, he asserts, remain squarely in the tradition of Jefferson and FDR, not (as Radcons allege) the late '60s New Left. Yet liberals have ceded certain issues and qualities to Radcons that they should take back. Moral outrage is one: 'There is moral rot in America, but it's not found in the private behavior of ordinary people. It's located in the public behavior of people at or near the top.' Quoting liberally from conservatives like Robert Bork (who was Reich's law school professor and gave him his first job), Reich wholeheartedly approves of their moral indignation but disagrees with their targets. Referring to John Q. Wilson's 'broken windows' argument for zero tolerance of petty vandalism, he writes, 'The corporate fraud, conflicts of interest, exorbitant pay of top executives, and surge of money into politics are like hundreds of broken windows.' Despite such well-made points, the good-natured Reich can't sustain outrage for more than a few sentences. His second main topic — reclaiming economic growth as a liberal banner — is more seriously compromised by his underdeveloped mix of neoliberalism and social democracy (despite his lucid critique of the Radcons' economic ideas and record). But he roars home with his last main subject, 'Positive Patriotism,' rejecting 'chest-thumping pride' in favor of defining America by its ideals. Although his book is uneven, Reich's distinctive perspective provides insights targeted well beyond November's election. Agent, Rafe Sagalyn. 60,000 first printing. (May 12)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"To the barricades, liberals: according to former Secretary of Labor Reich, your hour is at hand....Reich offers a persuasive, and spirited, view of the present political landscape and how it might be remade." Kirkus Reviews
"Reich puts together a strong argument, but perhaps in an effort to show that political discourse can be civil, his exhortations come across as a bit tepid....Expect this mild-mannered tome to engender plenty of shouting on the talk shows." Ilene Cooper, Booklist
"We've got Reason, they've got Treason. We've got Reich, they've got Coulter. We win. A brilliant and passionately argued book. Read it." Al Franken, New York Times-bestselling author of Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
"No deceptive fog of political hypocrisy can withstand Robert Reich's withering eye. He calls to a people's conscience and commitment. Everyone who cares about America's future should read this book." David K. Shipler, author of The Working Poor: Invisible in America
"In his utterly lucid and engaging new book, Robert Reich advances the novel idea that reason could be applied to the way our country is run. And it just might work. God knows, we've spent the last four years trying the complete opposite." Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America
"Robert B. Reich has a gift for demonstrating the compelling rationality of his progressive politics with lucidity and panache. Reason should be required reading for all our political decision makers!" Mario M. Cuomo
Reich explains how liberals can begin to reascend the political ladder by reclaiming the courage of their convictions, organizing those marginalized by society, and finding powerfully effective ways to minimize the abuse of wealth and power in our political system.
About the Author
Robert B. Reich is University Professor at Brandeis University and Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis’s Heller Graduate School. He is also a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He served as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. This is his tenth book. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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