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What It Means to Be a Democrat
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Senator George McGovern sees America is at a crossroads. He has seen quite a lot over the years. He has never seen anything quite like what is happening now. In his new book he tells readers what it means for him to be a Democrat and he offers some thoughts on what he feels are the important issues facing America today and how we should consider approaching them. Here they are in a nutshell:

Compassion

That is the leading attribute of Democrats according to McGovern. His early hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt was that rare man who had material wealth but still felt compassion for the down and out. And he did something about helping the downtrodden. Since 1981 the GOP, beginning with Ronald Reagan have been attempting to dismantle FDR's New Deal. When George HW Bush called Reagan's ideas "voodoo economics" he was correct. They were. And they remain so. McGovern has been called a "bleeding heart liberal." He's proud of that because his heart does bleed for those who are having a tough time getting by. He states that the wealthiest 1% are making 24% of the money in America today. And that is not right. Compassion is needed.

Fear and Defense Spending

The invasion of Iraq never should have happened. We need to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq right now. Three trillion has been or will be squandered as a result of the Bush/Cheney hysterical fear factor. The Dept. of Homeland Security should be shut down. He isn't discounting 9/11 or the terrorist threat but our massive debt is in large part a result of this culture of exaggerated fear and pointless war.

The Purpose of Government

The federal government (and Democrats) have created programs that make our lives better: Medicare, Social Security, rural electricity, etc. While the GOP celebrates the "individual" they need to reconnect with the concepts of "generosity" and "community."

Food and Hunger

George McGovern has been responsible for managing programs that have fed millions worldwide. Fighting world hunger is a crucial element in the peace process.

Immigration

Unless you are a native American you are in America due to immigation. That's what made America. McGovern has rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals for 80 years. Albert Pujols the legendary Cards slugger is an immigrant. Did he take somebody's job? Immigrants do work that other Americans spurn. Welcome them.

Education

One of the government departments Rick Perry wants to eliminate. At least, one he could recall. Perhaps he needs more schooling? And McGovern wants to improve the Head Start program. He also thinks we should make a GI Bill equivalent education available to all lower and middle class Americans. Offering better education will reap us a harvest of benefits.

Putting America Back to Work

Increase the minimum wage from 7.75 to 8.25. Hi-speed rail. Bloated CEO compensation makes ordinary Americans lose hope.

Energy and Environment

We should have listened to Jimmy Carter and gotten fuel alternatives long ago. Global warming is real.

Middle East

Withdraw our troops now from Iraq and Afghanistan. While we are at it, withdraw them from Germany and Korea. Israel needs to return the lands they took in 1967 according to UN Security Council Resolution 242. Two states: Palestine. Israel.

Universal Health Care

Like Canada. Medicare for all.

Alcohol and Drugs

His daughter was an alcoholic. It killed her. He knows of what he speaks. We need to help these people.

This is a wise book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
George McGovern is an honorable, clear-thinking American for whom the only ideology is simple, unselfish service to country. In this short, quick read of a book, he reminds us what true American values are: Big-heartedness, generosity, help for those in need, ingenuity, hard work to get ahead, a decent respect for every human being, and bipartisan pragmatism.

Senator McGovern is a decorated war hero (a bomber pilot who survived dozens of missions in WWII), a member of the Kennedy Administration, and by his own account a "stand-in" presidential candidate who ran against Nixon after Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. He draws on his rich personal knowledge of 65 years of American politics to place the current radical-right GOP in historical perspective as one of the worst political developments ever to happen in America. "We are," he reminds us, "a nation in which fear and paranoia run deep. Since the Pilgrims made landfall in 1620, we have burned so-called witches at the stake, hauled Japanese-Americans to internment camps, and blacklisted people who we labeled Communists." In postwar history, it is the Republicans who "have fomented popular fears to their best advantage." The GOP is the party of demagoguery and playing dirty: McCarthyism, the "southern white strategy," Willie Horton, ginned-up WMDs and specters of mushroom clouds in Iraq, Swiftboating, and the Socialist-Muslim-Kenyan nonsense.

When Republicans are elected to public office, they overreach, ignore facts and common sense, and run roughshod over the country. The Patriot Act invades our privacy. The Homeland Security department is a bloated "behemoth that now has more than 200,000 employees and a $42 billion budget." It upsets McGovern to "see an elderly woman trying her darnedest to comply with these ridiculous rules, as if she could possibly be harboring an explosive in her toothpaste." The Republicans deregulated the financial industry, ran up huge deficits on unpaid-for wars, and caused a near-collapse of the nation's economy, and then not only refuse to take responsibility, but want even more of the same. "I am sickened," he says, "by the idea that instead of working alongside President Obama to solve [these] problems in a bipartisan way, congressional Republicans are trying to . . . unseat him . . . regardless of the cost."

McGovern ridiules the GOP obsession with tax cuts and the claim that lower taxes mean higher growth: "[During the Eisenhower period], the tax rate on the wealthiest was 91 percent--and GDP grew by 3.67 percent. Under Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of tax cutting and the Republican Party, GDP grew by only 3.47 percent. If a tax rate as high as 91 percent didn't stall the economy, why would a 36 percent rate do so?

He was opposed to both the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and points out that the techniques of false patriotism were identical among those who supported these wars: "[A] lot of people who beat their chests have never been near a military plane or a battlefield; they've never heard a bullet pass an inch above their skulls. They've never seen a buddy in arms gasping his way to death. Sometime in the late 1960s, as I had the floor trying to make the case against our continuance in Vietnam, a fellow senator stood up and said, 'I stand with our troops.' I said, 'You're not standing with our troops. They're in Vietnam. You're in the Senate, with air-conditioning, mahogany paneling, and pages to run your errands for you.' " McGovern has watched our government send almost exclusively working-class kids off to die in wars, "while the kids who have enjoyed the most from our society are the least likely to serve," and suggests that "if upper-middle-class kids were being drafted out of Harvard and Smith we might never enter unwise wars like those we're in now or were in for so many years in Vietnam."

"What it Means to be a Democrat" is not a heavily-footnoted academic analysis, a journalistic work based on hundreds of sources, or an ideological tract. It is the final salute of a 89-year-old who knows firsthand that our nation has been gravely damaged by the radical right, and who wants to remind us to return to our true ideals.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
During most of my life I have largely ignored politics, voting on emotion or looks rather than the particular person's views on those issues. That changed as I got older and personally experienced some of the problems we face in American society.

I find this book to be a good discussion of current, relevant issues and the Democratic position. Some of the issues discussed in this book are food and hunger, immigration, education, creating jobs, the Middle East, and universal health care. I did not know much about George McGovern before reading this book. In this book I found the views of a most interesting man who has served his country well.

This book has helped me to bring into focus and clarify many if the issues facing Americans today. It has helped me to form some of my own opinions and views on these issues. I found this book to be well worth the time it took to read it and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the issues facing Americans today. -- Valerie Lull, Author, Ten Healthy Teas
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In this book, George McGovern presents the reader with a thoughtful, concise, and quickly-readable explanation of what it means to be a Democrat: what Democrats hold dear, what they advocate for, and the beliefs that bind them together. The former senator (and one-time presidential candidate) wastes no time summing up what a Democrat is (pp. five):

"Above all, being a Democrat means having compassion for others. It means putting government to work to help the people who need it. It means using all available tools to provide good health care and education, job opportunities, safe neighborhoods, a healthy environment, a promising future. It means standing up for people who have been kept down, whether they are Native Americans or African Americans, women, immigrants, or the homeless. It means taking care of the mentally ill, of seniors, of vulnerable children, of veterans --- and making sure all people are treated with respect and dignity."

The remainder of the book is spent explaining how a Democrat's views of government and its role are manifest with respect to compassion, defense spending, the purpose of government, food/hunger, immigration, education, employment, energy/environment, the Middle East, health care, and addiction. He draws sharp contrasts with the Republican party to emphasize his points and, admirably, keeps his criticisms aboveboard, although he does single out the Tea Party as a major contributor to the increasing acrimony on Capitol Hill. Senator McGovern is clearly proud to be a Democrat and the federal programs they've conceived and created since World War II --- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamp Program, Voting Rights Act, Head Start, Peace Corps, Nat'l School Lunch Program, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, collective bargaining laws, Fair Labor Standards Act, State Children's Health Insurance Program, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (pp. 231-2) --- although his commitment to our nation, to being an American, transcends his allegiance to the Democratic Party.

This is an easy and clearly-written book by a remarkable man. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Reading this book reminded me why I voted for George McGovern so many years ago. The book is well written and is a must-read for all who believe in the principles of the democratic party.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book captures the essence of the Democratic party and its ideals. No one says it better than Senator McGovern.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The book was an easy read. I enjoy books written by politicians and people in the public eye who have given their time and talents for the good of all people. Now I know why I voted for all democrats.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Being a Democrat myself I really enjoyed reading the book. Mr. McGovern made some very valid points about our role as Democrats in this country and our many contributions to a better society. I feel proud to be called a Democrat and know that we are very caring as individuals and as a group.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
George McGovern was a WWII hero of mine, and he would have made a great president. His political ideology is a clear expression of mine, so the book was great.
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on July 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
When I get frustrated with the politics I read George McGovern's book,' What it Means to be a Democrate.' My passion for what the party stands for makes me feel hopeful for our country. The book helped me get involved in the last election as I was frustrated but Senator McGovern has a simple was with words. He was a good man. His goal was not about the mighty dollar, but service to the people, which is what is missing in this day and age. I wish more Senators were like George Mcgovern, a man of integrity and love for his country.
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