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Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn from Conservative Sucess 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471789604
ISBN-10: 0471789607
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the former associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, Waldman briefly indulges in matter-of-fact self-blame while lauding the Right for its hard work and cheering on future Democratic activism in this well-sourced, partisan blueprint for undoing Republican control of the nation. Let's "inaugurate the age of the progressive warrior," Waldman (Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You) trumpets, proposing that Democrats take a cue from their opponents in order to do so. He maps out a rhetorical strategy, a "thematically unified master narrative" in answer to the "four pillars of conservatism": low taxes, small government, strong defense and traditional social values. "We're all in it together" is Waldman's progressive answer, a maxim that encompasses five principles: "government that works for everyone, opportunity for everyone, security for everyone, individual freedom for everyone, progress for everyone." Under each principle one can fit any topical issue (e.g., corporate accountability), Waldman explains. He details more grounded, if less conventional, strategies as well: attract moderate voters to the Democratic Party by attacking moderate Republican politicians instead of radical conservatives, and focus on the Southwest instead of the South. Daunted progressives may take heart in Waldman's pragmatic if untested ideas. (May)
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Review

A senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the former associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, Waldman briefly indulges in matter-of-fact self-blame while lauding the Right for its hard work and cheering on future Democratic activism in this well-sourced, partisan blueprint for undoing Republican control of the nation. Let's ""inaugurate the age of the progressive warrior,"" Waldman (""Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You"") trumpets, proposing that Democrats take a cue from their opponents in order to do so. He maps out a rhetorical strategy, a ""thematically unified master narrative"" in answer to the ""four pillars of conservatism"": low taxes, small government, strong defense and traditional social values. ""We're all in it together"" is Waldman's progressive answer, a maxim that encompasses five principles: ""government that works for everyone, opportunity for everyone, security for everyone, individual freedom for everyone, progress for everyone."" Under each principle one can fit any topical issue (e.g., corporate accountability), Waldman explains. He details more grounded, if less conventional, strategies as well: attract moderate voters to the Democratic Party by attacking moderate Republican politicians instead of radical conservatives, and focus on the Southwest instead of the South. Daunted progressives may take heart in Waldman's pragmatic if untested ideas. ""(May)"" (""Publishers Weekly"", February 13, 2006)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471789607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471789604
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,955,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I bought this book together with "The Good Fight" by Peter Beinart. While both books have their utility, neither is as good as Joe Klein in "Politics Lost." Waldman gets five stars to Beinart's four mostly because he is much more readable, has many useful tables including an analysis of the states where extremist Republicans as well as extremist Democrats are weak, and his book is generally focused on the left of center middle and the caring citizen as opposed to policy wonks that Beinart addresses in his book.

Page 111 is a very fine diagram of the issue columns that the Democratic Party simply does not address responsibly nor--a theme throughout the book--courageously. Over-all the book does a very fine job of defining the distinctions between conservatives and progressives, as well as the distinctions between what conservatives stand for and what they say, and what progressives stand for and do not say.

The author spends most of his time comparing conservatives to progressives (code for left of center liberals) which is something of a pity because he appears to have a very well developed sense of the issues and what the center and left-center can and should stand for.

There are two bottom lines in this book, and both of them make eminent sense to me:

1) Don't bring a knife to a gun-fight. The author points out in detail how inept and weak and unfocused the Democrats are at every stage of the political game beginning with high school and collage political clubs.

2) Stand for the public, for the individual taxpayer, for the blue-collar worker, the working poor, the lower middle class.
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Format: Hardcover
In 2004 a President who lied to justify an unpopular war and had the worst jobs record since the Depression still managed to win. The Republicans control all three branches of government and a majority of governorships and state legislatures. The national debate has shifted from real problems to distractions like gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, and flag-burning. Waldman believes this all adds up to a need for progressives to change.

Waldman believes progressives should create a single movement (not remain a collection of interest groups) devoted to fighting conservatism and advancing a progressive view. Ask an ordinary person what conservatives stand for and he'll likely respond with four powerful, easily understood ideas - low taxes, small government, strong defense, and traditional values. Ask him what liberals stand for and chances are he'll give you the obverse. Conservatives focus on emotions and the character of the speaker; liberals on logic and facts. (A good point - look at most advertising in the U.S.!)

A majority of Americans favor legal abortion, gun control universal healthcare, strong environmental protections, generous Social Security and Medicare benefits. Yet, they are stymied. Part of conservatives' secret is their institutions (eg. American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute) are multi-issue and make political use of their products easy (eg. recording studios are available for interviews). Liberals, on the other hand, have single-issue organizations, poorly marketed publications, and poorly paid core staff.
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Format: Hardcover
If 10 stars were available, that's what I would rate this book. The history of how we got into our current mess and what Progressives can do NOW to turn it around is communicated clearly, rationally, and passionately while remaining a highly interesting read. Having read dozens and dozens of related books over the past 3 or 4 years, this one may well be the most effective call to action of all. I was so motivated and inspired by it that I bought 12 more copies to send to friends and relatives. Don't even consider skipping this one...it's a Must Read treasure!
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Format: Hardcover
A great read that explains so well why the left is far behind, even though so many people agree with the basic tenets of liberalism. A must read before the next election!
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