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Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 13, 2008
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Alterman spends a lot of time clearing away the falsehoods spread by both right-wing and mainstream media figures, but the core of the book is a vigorous defense of liberalism as a credoa credo, Alterman argues persuasively, that most Americans actually subscribe to in its constituent parts. Acknowledging that liberalism is notoriously difficult to define, he nonetheless provides an extensive and nuanced analysis of its substance.
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In chapters like "Why Do Liberals Hate Patriotism?", "Why Do Liberals Hate Religion?" and "Why Are Liberals Such Wimps?", Alterman attacks the assumptions that liberals are "soft" on national defense and crime and rejects the nonsensical labels - like "elitist," "tax-and-spend," and "anti-family" - that form the modern liberal public relations crisis. While any self-described liberal should realize the ridiculousness of these accusations, many are treated as fact by both conservative and moderate pundits and media sources. Proud liberals may feel the book is preaching to the choir, but as the old saying goes, "That's how you make them sing." Liberals have a lot of singing to do if they want to reclaim their good name, and provide the logic and compassion America needs to fight the reactionary politics and religious fundamentalism offered by conservatives.
Alterman insists that liberals have a unique opportunity at this particular moment, and also acknowledges the difficulties we face.Read more ›
Alterman confesses that "liberalism is notoriously difficult to define (p. 56)" because the concepts of which it is comprised are individually difficult to define: fairness, reciprocity, equity in political and financial opportunities, a profound respect for our own humanity and for the humanity of others, an intense desire to see even handed treatment for all in our courts, our schools, and our political institutions, and a deep reverence for freedom and reason. These concepts are as hard to articulate into policy as they are difficult to define, and the liberal understands that the interactions of people are intensely complex, that that's the way he or she perceives the world because that`s the way the world is.Read more ›
Much of the book has little to do with why so many of us are liberals, but rather focuses in on how conservatives view liberals and how they go about their mischievous deeds with inaccuracies that go beyond the pale. Alterman does a good job in citing quotations to that end and indeed that is his finest contribution. But he also has a proclivity to sink into polls and other factual numbers that don't elevate what should be a terrific exposé of the right wing. When speaking of Maureen Dowd he quotes a journalist as saying that "she's a liberal by default". Given Alterman's fixation on non-liberal thinking I felt myself in exactly the same position....liberal by default.
Alterman concludes with a terrific last few pages about why we are liberals. I wish I had seen more evidence throughout his book regarding the positive aspects of being on the left, but for those who want some comfort food, "Why We're Liberals" will provide some snacking along the way.
And yet, as both this book and Conason's "Big Lies" point out, polls consistently show that a "supermajority" of Americans take the liberal position on almost every issue. America is liberal, it just doesn't realize it.
This book is actually very similar to "Big Lies" and makes almost all of the same arguments. It's better than Conason's earlier book, however, because the references are more up-to-date. ("Big Lies" was published in 2002.) I'd recommend either book - preferably this one - to any liberal seeking verbal ammunition in his/her arguments with republicans. Let Alterman's "Why We're Liberals" (or Joe Conason's "Big Lies") serve as your Liberal Bible: read it, re-read it, memorize what you can, and the next time a republican tries to trounce you with one of those bogus liberal stereotypes, you can fight back. The Right may have won the victory of semantics - successfully making "liberal" a dirty word - but we continue to win the war of ideology, because most Americans DO agree with our positions. We just have to effectively show them we stand for what they, too, stand for.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thank you very much for this political asset to my education.Published 7 months ago by Robert W. Olsen
Alterman discusses the numerous misconceptions concerning the liberal tradition. Misconception often used by the right to demonize the left. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kenneth Buck
I found the text to be not very accurate. The founding of this country was not based on a socialist/marxist model, no matter how hard the liberals try to convince us otherwise.Published 20 months ago by Edward C. Hansohn
I felt the need to offer a review of Why We're Liberals because another reviewer took down their review. Read morePublished on January 3, 2013 by Benjamin D. Steele
Eric Alterman (born 1960) is a journalist, blogger, and commentator, who has also written books such as Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Read morePublished on September 24, 2012 by Steven H Propp
The book spends a great deal of time chronicling the excesses of the right wing, charting their march toward extremism as of 2008. Read morePublished on August 1, 2012 by albarino
I saw a friend had reviewed this book, and I thought about giving it a read. However, just looking at the cover gave me pause. Dr. Read morePublished on January 29, 2012 by James R. McDonald
I should preface this review by stating I do not think of myself as a liberal. I don't think of myself as conservative, either, but the book I'm reviewing is about liberals so my... Read morePublished on September 26, 2011 by J. Lindner