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How We Won: Progressive Lessons from the Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' [Kindle Edition]

Aaron Belkin
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.99

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Book Description

September 20, 2011 marked a civil rights milestone for the United States. By order of Congress, the 17-year ban on gay men and lesbians serving in the military -- commonly known as "don't ask, don't tell" -- was overturned.

But how did this historic change come about? And why did it take so long?

In "How We Won," Aaron Belkin argues that the public needed to be persuaded that gay troops would not harm the military before Congress could be convinced to repeal the ban. Belkin, a scholar with more than a decade of hands-on experience in the repeal campaign, shares an insider's perspective on the strategies that he and others used to encourage this change of mind -- and change of heart -- in the American people and its Congress. His top strategy, a tactic which, surprisingly, progressives often fail to pursue, was targeting conservative lies.

The implications of Belkin's tactics extend far beyond the grass-roots movement to repeal "don't ask, don't tell". They challenge some of the left's most conventional wisdom about how to successfully set social policy. And the lessons that emerge could help progressives persuade the public about the merits of other big, liberal ideas, including the benefits of higher taxes and the dangers of an excessively strong military.

But for now, as Belkin says, it's time to celebrate this one great victory.

Product Details

  • File Size: 727 KB
  • Print Length: 108 pages
  • Publisher: The Huffington Post Media Group (September 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,771 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unexpected Joy October 4, 2011
This is a wonderful and compelling read. I've been involved with the DADT debate and was expecting to reminisce more than learn while reading this book. I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the debate I was unaware of. Aaron Belkin did a fantastic job of illustrating the complexity of the issue and pointing out the lessons learned. Activists at all levels and areas would likely benefit greatly from this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking Deeply About the Repeal of DADT September 22, 2011
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"How We Won" is a remarkable story written from the perspective of an eminently successful scholar and public policy activist. Although this book (which can easily be read in a single sitting) tells the story of the author's own involvement behind the scenes in overturning the US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, it's message is much broader. Anyone (scholar or activist alike) who seeks policy change will undoubtedly benefit from the lessons Professor Belkin shares from his own experience. In a profoundly intellectual, yet easily accessible manner, Belkin reflects not only on the successes of his actions, but equally on his failures. One one page you'll find him complementing his opposition when he found himself outplayed, and then on the next page, he critiques their strategy. By evaluating all the evidence of this epic policy reversal, he provides a deeply reflective perspective into a very complex and fascinating story. Yet, what stands out most is how the author models his approach to effective public policy engagement through the creation of this manuscript: present both sides of the issue and let the facts do do the heavy lifting. Starting as a no-name assistant professor in 1999, Belkin shows how the power of a single voice within a democracy can change the course of history. This book is exceedingly well-done and a bargain at twice the price.
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I met Dr. Belkin on a trip to California in 2002. This is a concise, but detailed account of the political and legislative maneuvering that led to the repeal bill at the end of 2010 and the final official "certification" and repeal in September 2012. Was in Kindle only, at least when I bought it (bought the device just to get this book). Paperback would be desirable, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The behind-the-scene absorbing story on Repeal December 11, 2012
What an amazing narrative this is regarding the 17-year struggle that finally ended in the repeal of DADT. If nothing else, it would be informative case study of what it takes to effect change in society - and giving evidence of the huge impact of a fairly small but very determined group of "activists." Surely, no one can tell this story better than Dr. Belkin, who played a key central role in the long struggle.

Allow me to quote the author from Chapter One - David and Goliath:
"I was in graduate school in 1993 (when DADT was enacted), and wouldn't enter the fight against DADT until 1999, when I founded the Palm Center, an institute dedicated to making sure that public policy was based on solid research rather than distortion. What followed was 11 years of hard work conducting scholarly research and then disseminating that research to the public.
"My central argument in this book is that, in order for Congress to repeal DADT, political and military leaders, as well as the public at large, had to be convinced that allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly would not harm the military. This single idea was the main roadblock to political progress, the obstacle we had to overcome to make it safe for politicians to repeal DADT. It didn't matter that scholars already knew that the Pentagon wasn't telling the truth. The key was to get the American people to understand."

The chapters in Section II, Strategy, identify the five strategies employed by the Palm Center: target conservative lies, iterate high quality research, recruit validators, build from within, and expose hypocrisy.
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