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Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream
Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream
by Ross Gregory Douthat
Edition: Hardcover
112 used & new from $0.01

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for thoughful members of any political persuasion, full of surprising insights, July 14, 2008
I'm center-left politically, reasonably well informed but not involved in politics. The bulk of this book is a concise but incredibly insightful political history from the New Deal forward that I couldn't put down. I read plenty of political magazines and blogs, yet on every page I would think, Yes-that makes sense! Why hadn't I thought of it that way before? I loved it so much that I bought copies of the book for four members of my family (who are mostly center-right to Rush Limbaugh right).

The authors do a great job of describing the enduring appeal of the New Deal in the mid 20th century, emphasizing that it was not only egalitarian but moralistic, then describing the trends that fractured the coalition in the the mid 60s and early 70s. I found their political history to be rich, sharp, subtle, and without precedent. I'm amazed that they could be so sensitive to the motivations and excesses of both the left and the right, yet write with such verve. It's critical but evenhanded, intellectual in the best sense, never dry or academic.

In a world that seems to be a left-right Punch and Judy, an echo chamber of ideologues and bashers, this book provides a space for real dialogue. I'm no fan of GWB, but this book helped me better appreciate his intial intentions (if not his god-awful execution). It also paints a much more convincing picture of the roots of social conservatism in the working class than Thomas Franks' "What's the Matter with Kansas," which makes them look like rubes. Conversely, I'm hoping it will explain to my more right-wing family members why an "ownership society" that promises more economic growth by cutting taxes and entitlements won't play well with a working class that may have more material weath, but also stagnant paychecks, more inequailty, and eroding stability and social solidarity.

The latter, shorter part of the book, their prescriptions for transforming the GOP agenda, is provocative, but inherently messier and to some extent less satisfying (politics being the art of the possible, not a temple of ideological purity). My reactions changed from "Yes, of course!" to "Maybe, but..." and "Hmm...I just can't see it." Nonetheless, I think it's admirable for the book to say, in essence, Now that we understand each other, how do we ensure a 21st century America that supports liberty, prosperity, and safe communities for every working American? Exactly the conversation we need to have as we face the 2008 election.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2008 5:27 PM PDT

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