21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Others have their own reasons for admiring Bill Bradley and, more specifically, this book. Here are three of mine. First, with all due respect to his credentials (e.g. All-American, All-Pro, and Hall of Fame basketball player, Rhodes Scholar, and U.S. Senator), what has most impressed me about him over the years is that he has what John McPhee once characterized (in 1965) as a "sense of where you are." That was and continues to be true of Bradley as, in this volume, he shares his thoughts about a wide range of subjects which include the challenges of public service and what he learned from his own involvement, his concern about unmet social needs and wasted opportunities to respond effectively to them, and yet his remarkably durable faith in what can yet be accomplished if (huge "if") enough people can agree to work together despite their ethnic, economic, political, and religious differences.
Bradley candidly acknowledges regret about his own errors of both omission and commission throughout his years of public service even as he offers forceful, indeed eloquent reassurances that "the new American story" can be written only by reaffirming certain traditional ("old") values which are too often compromised by political expediency. In this book, he reveals a strong sense of where the American society is now and an even stronger strong sense of where it can - and should -- be.
For decades, I have been concerned about political labels such as "liberal" and "conservative" and, more recently, about catch phrases such as "social liberal" and "fiscal conservative." In this book, Bradley calls upon us to focus on the most important issues and then make decisions about them that are guided and informed by the core principles in the Declaration of Independence, in the Constitution, and (especially) in the Bill of Rights. Bradley offers a convincing and eloquent explanation of why a commitment to these principles in public policies and in personal conduct seems more imperative now than at any previous time in U.S. history.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2007
Too bad Bill Bradley has ruled out a run for the presidency, because the plan for America he outlines in this book could easily get him elected. We must therefore hope that the actual candidates, together with the 535 members of the U.S. House and Senate -- and the President, vice president and other members of the Executive Branch -- all read this and heed it. Bradley, a Democrat, outlines the pictures of America that the Bush administration and its allies have been selling to our citizens since January of 2001. Then he reframes them to reflect what's actually in place. And finally, he calmly and reasonably suggests how those problems can best be addressed in his view of "The New American Story." To solve the Social Security problem, for example, he suggests raising the minimum eligibility age from 67, where it will be in 2027, by one month every two years until it reaches 70 in 2099. He also calls for levying a 2 percent Social Security tax on all income above $94,200, the present ceiling on which we levy the universal 6.5 percent retirement tax. He calls for adding all new state and local employees into the system over a five-year period. Finally, Bradley suggests adjusting how we calculate annual cost-of-living raises by tying them to a slightly different consumer price index than the one now used. Those four provisions would keep Social Security solvent for at least 75 more years, he says. Many more problems are addressed in the same no-nonsense, easy-to-understand fashion, with plenty of facts to back up what he's saying. The difference between Bradley and many of today's politicians is that he's interested in building consensus to solve problems, not in getting elected or re-elected and not in attacking the opposite party or strengthening his own party. This book contains more "straight talk" and makes more sense than most of the utterances of the nation's top politicians. It's refreshing to find a book that focuses on issues and solutions instead of personality or ideology. Bradley has written that book.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Bill Bradley's journey has been extraordinary indeed: U.S. Olympian; Rhodes Scholar; NBA Hall of Famer; distinguished 3-term senator from NJ; candidate for president. Written with intellect, insight and authority, The New American story speaks to ALL Americans in a voice that is at once reassuring and urgent. Bradley knows politics from surface to core. More than that, he knows the American people. From a lifetime on the road, he understands who we are, how we got got into the trouble we're in, and what we can do, together, in order to make this country closer to the one our Founders envisioned, and of which we all dream. Perhaps the dominant theme of this wonderful treatise is, despite what the politicians and media continually assert, we are NOT divided Red and Blue; time and again, Bradley cites examples that remind us of the many fundamental needs and values we all share, regardless of the so-called color of our states or the actual color of our skin. I am proud to have worked for Senator Bradley in 2000, and from where we now find ourselves, both here and abroad, I can only wonder with a sad and heavy heart what might have been. And yet, it is refreshing to read these words, and to know that they come from the heart and mind of a very great American, and one who has been liberated from the shackles of future campaigns and elections. I cannot recommend this book more highly. Read it soon, for the clock is ticking...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2007
I confess I have read many other books on the current status quo and state of politics in our country before reading this book. If you have too, this may be a bit repetitive as most issues have been discussed before. What I do like about Bill Bradley's book is it is not simply a laundry list of complaints. He offers at the end of each chapter (designated to each issue) some thought out solutions. This is a good book for eye-opening for our major issues - health care, education, energy... and would recommend it to readers who want to learn more about the who, what and why our social issues are being ignored by government. I also recommend "War on the Middle Class" by Lou Dobbs or "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class -- And What We Can Do About It" by Thom Hartmann. I enjoyed reading those a little more.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Bill Bradley's earnestness has always been appealing. This book is another expression of his earnest concern about the United States. He begins by noting that (page xiii): "I call this book `The New American Story' because I believe we've been told a story about American that simply isn't true. . .It's a story of no possibility--of too few resources and no political will; of fear and lack of compassion; of individual consumerist values at home and `America only' policies abroad."
He begins by writing of what he sees as a dreary story continually sold to the American people (very briefly summarized in the previous quotation; for more detail, see pages 8-13). Bradley goes back to Thomas Jefferson for the fountainhead of his "New American History." Chapters 3-8 explore what a new vision might look at, in policy arenas such as America's role in the world, the economy, oil and the environment, pensions, health care (where he sort of waffles between a couple different positions), and education. It would be too tedious to run through these various proposals. However, the reader can get a punchy summary of his proposals and--perhaps as important--how to pay for these in a summary, running from pages 179-183. he calculates that the policies he would like to see enacted (e.g., increasing research investment, protecting pensions [including Social Security], establishing a federal institute to determine cost-effectiveness of medical advances, to increase teachers' salaries in areas which are hard-pressed to deliver top quality education, and so on). How to pay for these initiatives (which Bradley calculates to cost $540 billion to $740 billion, depending on which health care option is selected [with single-payer as one of those]? Some suggestions: extend Social Security taxes higher income levels of the wealthy than is currently the case; cut farm subsidies for the wealthiest farmers; raise income tax progressively, which also reforming the tax code; create a tax on carbon/gasoline. He calculates that such measures as he suggests would raise $807 to $907 billion in additional revenue, thereby paying for his new proposals.
One key aspect of his argument in this book is the importance and value of politics, including the importance of discussion and compromise. He begins to close with an interesting brace of chapters--one on why Republicans cannot produce a new story for the future. More poignantly, given his long record as a Democrat, he contends that Democrats "don't" produce a viable and coherent alternative (e.g., Democrats are terrified of being labeled soft on defense; Democrats are too secular and find it hard to take religious Americans seriously--especially evangelicals and fundamentalists; being too wedded to certain interest groups).
Nonetheless, in the end, he remains optimistic that a new story can reenergize American politics. Will readers be convinced? That will have to be addressed reader by reader. But this is an interesting book by an earnest political figure.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Edit of 5 Jul 09 to observe Bradley is theater--a fraud--as are all the others. With Obama it has become clear that the Borg consists of Wall Street (including Allen & Co) owning Congress, Treasury, Justice, and the Fed. We the People have been mugged.
Edited 25 Jun 07 to focus on possibility of Bradley-Bloomberg and comment.
This is a very solid, well-written and well-documented, and with great insights that I am all too happy to absorb in my capacity as an estranged moderate Republican. On balance I find Bill Bradley to be smarter, more nuanced, more deliberate, and not so trivially, taller and fitter than Al Gore. I am so impressed by the possibilities that I am immediately going back to my existing copy of Price of Loyalty, the story of how Dick Cheney betrayed Paul O'Neill and all the rest of us moderate Republicans, to see if there is a cross-walk that can be done. If these two worthies will agree to electoral reform and a transpartisan Cabinet, we can save the Republic in 2008.
The book begins with a marvelous review of the many false stories the extremist Republicans and their White House neo-cons have been telling about everything from tax cuts and the deficit and Medicare to Iraq, terrorism, and so on He has mastered the story-telling dynamic so recommended by Stephen Denning, the World Bank's Chief Knowledge Officer until his retirement.
In Part II of the book the author explores the break-downs in global cooperation and global responsibility, and specifically points to the growth of religion as a force we cannot ignore. See Left Hand of God. He addresses the big picture issues including the concentration of wealth and the drop in savings, increase in inequality, and failure to invest in the future (education, infrastructure).
His review names three systems--economic, social, and national defense--where we are being pushed to the breaking point. In a somewhat scattered fashion, he moves across education, the deficit, tax reform, geopolitical instability, oil, water, pensions, stock market, and health care (specifically praising Paul O'Neil and holistic reform.
In part III he identifies voter turn-out and electoral reform as the two keys to victory over money and conglomerate media spin. The book then ends with what for me was complexly new and useful insight on why the Republicans cannot fix nor manage America, and why the Democrats continue to flounder.
His eight "curses" of the Democratic Party:
1) Fear of thinking big
2) Capitulation on defense (hard vs soft power)
3) Inability to counter accusations of being wasteful spendthrifts
4) Close-minded devotion to the secular
6) Special Friends in teachers, trial lawyers, and auto workers
7) Ceased to stand on principle
8) Hypnotized by charisma
There is no one now running that I consider worthy of being the first transpartisan president. Bradley, if he adopted the three standards: electoral reform as the only truly urgent issue; transpartisanship and a transpartisan cabinet announced in advance; and a commitment to show a balanced budget addressing all ten threats with all ten policies by November 2008, I'd want to be part of that restoration of the Republic.
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill
Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (Bk Currents)
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"The New American Story" begins with: 1)an excellent summary of generally accepted wisdom on foreign policy (we rule the world but are not bound by rules), economics, global warming, terrorism, health care, pensions, taxes, etc. - overall reflecting hyper-individualism overcoming various resource limitations. 2)Cultural issues (eg. gay rights, legalized abortions) are important to some, while good jobs, pensions, health care, education are important to all - we need to focus on the latter. 3)International cooperation is required to address terrorism, trade, global warming, spread of pandemics, arms trade limitations, and ameliorate poverty. 5)The U.S. has allowed relations between Japan-China to deteriorate, as well as those between the U.S. and much of Latin America (starting with an effort to overthrow Chavez in Venezuela), the U.S. and the Muslim world (via our actions in Iraq and failure to rein in Israel vs. Palestine.
Bradley then goes on to point out detailed problems and recommend alternatives in energy + global warming, health care (including addressing waste due to quality and unwarranted care issues), and education (including the capital deficiency/redunancy problem that dooms vouchers), along with the means to readily pay for them. He also chastises the media for giving equal time to positions that are patent nonsense.
Some of "The New American Story's" most interesting material involves describing Republican factions - subsidists, corporatists, realists (actions based on data and logic), messianist fundamentalists intent on spreading democracy, anti-terrorists (the new anti-communists), crime-busters, supply-siders, and Main-Streeters (common sense applied to government actions). Unifying this hodge-podge is now accomplished via 9/11; given Bush's emphasis on ideology, their is little perceived need for competence - instead cronyism and incompetence rules. Further, his lack of interest in planning (vs. reacting) tends to posit issues into simple black and white, while encouraging slanted research, data, and intelligence.
Democrats, on the other hand, suffer from a number of Bradley-identified curses: 1)Fear of thinking big (big, inspiring ideas such as tax reform, Social Security, Medicare). 2)Capitulation to the Republican charge of being soft on defense. 3)Inability to counter accusations that it wastes peoples' hard-earned monies - at best trying to counter with micro-managing rules instead of outcome audits. 4)Wealth-bashing. 5)Special friends - eg. teachers, trial lawyers (eg. resisting simple but important malpractice reform).
The "bad news" about Bradley's book is that it does not address two major problems: 1)Outsourcing American jobs (the trade deficit), and 2)Illegal immigration (a more local form of outsourcing American jobs). In addition, while Bradley recognizes there are serious problems within American education, he fails to put the impetus for improvement on parents and pupils
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2007
Author's background and his matter-of-fact account of politics make reading this book a must for any one who tries to comprehend the workings of government.
His aspiration is to develop a coherent governing philosophy. Can this be done with an undeniably partisan approach which, paradoxically, is also a consequence of the author's impressive background?
Some of his policy suggestions appear to be both revolutionary and inarguable at the same time. Free merit-based college education is an example. On the other hand, some of his suggestions are just assorted pieces of a patchwork (e.g., those associated with taxation, social security and pensions), and some are simply an exercise in trivialities (e.g., the one of trans fats). Arguable is a suggestion of the reduction of the Pentagon budget, which is already at a historically-low level in relation to the GDP. More importantly, it is arguable in light of the intensifying global tensions.
Author is concerned with rebuilding the Democratic party, which is understandably worthwhile for the life-long practitioner of government. It is doubtful, however, that this process of rebuilding would lead to an all-encompassing revision of the existing ways of governance. Such a revision and a design of a better organization of governance are overdue in view of the accelerating environmental deterioration and growing terrorist threats.
A Better Organization: Facing Threats to Our Country
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
All of us are prisoners of the way we talk about things. Greed, fear, ambition and- occasionally- love and kindness shape the stories we tell about our reality and about our lives. Once the stories are told-in person or in the media-they become the reality to which we relate.
The most extreme example of this is the process of story-telling by which we turn other people into one-dimensional demons. `Liberals are unpatriotic' is the title of one such story. `Conservatives are selfish' is another. There are dozens of smaller stories. Most of the stories are about `us' or `them' although there are also stories with titles like `possible' and `never'.
The great strength of The New American Story lies simply in Bill Bradley's recounting of The Story We're Told. That is, he makes explicit the assumptions behind the heavily-funded discourse that shapes the way we Americans think and feel. In the process of simply making that story explicit, he makes it less powerful and clears the way for another, more generous story.
What's the difference between the Story We're Told and The New American Story? Essentially it's a matter of sentence structure. TSWT says that the market is the best allocator of resources, so we should leave it to operate without government interference. TNAS says that while the market is indeed efficient and the proper engine of economic growth, it's not the answer to every economic problem. TSWT says that you're either a patriot or a peacenik, TNAS says you can be both. The New American Story, at its simplest, sounds like the story most of us would tell if we stopped shouting and spoke in sentences instead of slogans.
Bradley doesn't stop with demolishing the power of current political stories and their titles: He injects into his discussion a few titles that haven't been co-opted or demonized yet. He re-introduces the word `progressive' (perhaps hoping that no one will mistake it for the now thoroughly ruined term `liberal') He talks about the need for action as a `community' (maybe hoping to avoid the stigma of the word for the formal expression of community that we call `government')Bradley's writing has often been accused of being clumsy and indeed the book is slow-going at times, but at least we can be sure that there was no professional ghost-writer involved.
Bill Bradley is a man of obvious good will and manifest frankness. It may be difficult for him to acknowledge that the stories we're told are supported by the economic self-interest of financial giants like the oil and auto industries. It may also be dispiriting for him to struggle with the fact that as long as media are both persuasive and purchaseable, stories will rise and fall according to the same logic by which hemlines, movies and pop music move in and out of public awareness. In any case, he isn't hopeless in the face of these realities.
Will new stories, or even The New Story set us free from the inefficient, slogan-based `discussion'? Can our political `debate' become more than a discourse between competing advertising agencies and focus-group watchers? For Bradley's New Story to take hold, a ground-level shift in American culture is necessary. Having just written a novel that tries to make a change in the culture of guns in this country, I'm very sympathetic and even a bit hopeful. Along with the predictable calls for citizen participation, he focuses attention on the places in the world where stories are created and shared. Internet communities like Gather.com and consensus and community builders like Essembly.com. are the places where we talk to each other and shape our understandings of things, the places where we get together, create communities and yes, tell new stories.
--Lynn Hoffman, author of New Short Course in Wine,The and
the New American Story about Guns bang BANG: A Novel
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2007
As we head into the 2008 elections, this book is a must read. Senator Bradley's insight into today's social and political problems are very enlightening. Although the Senator is known as a liberal Democrat, this book is well worth reading by independents and moderate Rebublicans as well.