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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Standing up for the Silenced Majority, March 31, 2008
This review is from: Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America (Hardcover)
Republicans have devoted a lot of resources to the smearing of liberals, but Eric Alterman is not going to let them get away with it. He has a mission to correct misconceptions spewed by conservatives and regurgitated by mainstream media. His well-researched Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America is chock-full of the staggering statistics, rational reasoning, and liberal principles that are under-represented - and sometimes completely absent - in the so-called "liberal media." This history of liberalism is an opportunity for young progressives to read about a time when liberalism was unbelievably popular, and to discover the origins of stereotypes that plague modern liberalism, many of which are baseless.

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. He has no problem with telling liberals what they're doing wrong, and he makes some interesting suggestions for politicians and pundits in the wake of the utter catastrophe of the Bush regime. Some of his ideas are already being used by prominent Democrats; however, other ideas of his walk a fine line between pragmatism and abandoning liberal ideals. Alterman does not want liberals to make the same mistakes they have made in the past - a logical, if somewhat bloodless stance.

The most inspiring part of Why We're Liberals may be the argument that a supermajority of Americans hold liberal viewpoints, but do not call themselves liberals. In his conclusion, Alterman writes: "...most Americans are indeed liberals. They'd prefer to live in a society with increased equality of opportunity; greater access to health care for all; a more equitable system of taxation; a healthier respect for the environment; and a less belligerent and more cooperative foreign policy." If liberals are in fact a silent majority, it is time for us to demand the representation we deserve.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 1, 2008 7:56:30 AM PDT
Mark Daniels says:
I love your review. Articulate, well-written, and very pro-liberal. Marry me.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2008 12:17:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2008 12:19:32 PM PDT
While I'm nearly as twitterpated as Mark is by Kellie's clearly well-written review, though I have to say that it's more than a little agitating to read those ostensibly leftward leaning talking points. It sounds like Liberals are the only ones who want equal opportunity (although it was Nixon who signed Affirmative Action), greater access to health care, and the piece de resistance ... an "equitable system of taxation" ... Conservatives want those things too, but not at the expense of the freedoms and/or civil liberties of others, and not at the expense of taxes unfairly levied against the most successful and innovative citizens. I'll wager that my idea of "fair" differs significantly from yours. It isn't quite fair that I have no children, yet still fund a broken education system which I neither believe in nor want to "save". The same holds true for social security, Medicaid, public housing, welfare, etc., but my contract as a citizen requires that I contribute to the common good. Now it's merely a question of "How much?" This "health care access" is in no way an issue of the common good. It would make already-available care much more convenient and more accessible to the poor and/or unemployed. I'm all for that, except the socialized systems in place around the world are tragically flawed, and place an unreasonable burden on the middle and upper class (taxpayers). Sweden almost went under, and Canada contracts American doctors to perform surgeries they don't have the bandwidth for.

Take a look at India if you want to see competition at work in the free market. They're still maturing and striving for their first world status in many ways, but you can't argue with world-class health care for a fraction of US prices. Brace yourself, you would have to perform major surgery on the AMA, or do away with it altogether so it can't continue to manipulate the supply/demand ... it's a monopoly, you see; stuff like that is supposed to be illegal here... Can we all please realize this country was founded on, and has enjoyed it's greatest successes due to the free market and open competition?!?!? Sheesh! It's like removing competition and turning over programs to the government has resulted in success after success?!?!? Have you seen public housing? How about public education? All that Federal payola that gets grafted back into 'favored' districts, so we can build "bridges to nowhere" (see Alaska's pork debacle), COMES from somewhere! How are the roads in your city? How about the city schools? Is it easy to find a doctor where you live? How easy is it to get sued where you live? The doctors (AMA) and lawyers (Bar) *love* the true, card-carrying liberals, as can be noted by how they allocate their campaign contributions ... wonder why that is? It's because ultra-liberals, lawyers and doctors (and a few others) all make a living on the backs of the top 10% wage-earners/taxpayers (which incidentally, that top 10% starts around $75k/year, JIC you thought it was some extravagant wage that got you into that club). No wonder urban areas vote almost exclusively Democrat ... if someone handed you money for doing nothing, wouldn't you vote for them again and again?

.... So, "Silenced Majority" has a nice ring to it, but if there's one thing I tend to notice, on TV especially, is that liberals are many things, but rarely silent. It's one of your most admirable characteristics, in my opinion. Too often, conservatives fail to communicate well, silently trudging ahead with the "knowledge" they are right, thus missing out on any discussion. It is this discussion and debate that fuels our political process. Liberals are rarely afraid to speak up or speak out if they think something is amiss or going afoul. It is this fearless voice, the determination to express alternate points of view, the wanton disregard for appearances if it's horribly wrong or just blather, that I admire. Conservatives need this input, and though many have little patience for it, they occasionally learn something against their will. ;-) It's very much like the kid who's always asking stupid questions in class ... every once in a while, he asks something really, really insightful, and it benefits every student. That kid should never be class President, but there is always a place for him/her, and all invective and hard feelings (I think) should be left out of it. I concede that some conservative thinking is loony, and I charge that some liberal thinking is just as loony. In truth, the silent majority is where most of us actually fall ... somewhere in the middle ... disenfranchised by the two-party system, too traditional to call ourselves a Democrat ... too enlightened and hopeful for the future to call ourselves Republican. It's that silent majority I would like to tap into. It's that group that holds the real power of this country, because I believe it's that group that has all the money. No matter what country, government, or moment in time, it's the people with the money who wield the real power. I hope America's middle and upper class wakes up and demands more of our politicians than bickering over which baseball players use steroids!
[oops, looks like I posted this twice ... technical difficulties]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2008 12:18:09 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Apr 4, 2008 12:18:51 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2008 11:03:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2008 9:57:35 PM PDT
John says:
I don't even know what a liberal is today. To me, it seems to be a person who thinks of people in terms of groups: "rich vs. poor", "women vs. men", etc. It seems to me that that is what defines liberals. Other than that: belief that the government can use power to "transform" society. Of course, when the government is not trying to alleviate poverty, but fight crime, it suddenly is transformed (in liberal minds) from a power of pure good, to a power of true evil.

Despite all the evidence, liberals continually come back to this idea that a small elite (them !) should be put in control of society at the governmental level to protect certain groups from other groups, and to make people "better" (whatever that means). And they will burn lots of money (your money) to follow that goal, even though there is a lot of evidence worldwide that socialism doesn't work.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2008 3:13:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 22, 2008 3:13:50 PM PDT
Steve says:
Well written response, B.L.. My next thought then is "what's the solution?" I wish I had a concrete plan. Asking the middle and upper class to get involved is the right place to start but is it realistic? People simply don't care enough. The knowledge is available and no one takes it. We are subjected to tv pundits and news masquerading as entertainment (and vice versa) and the average middle class person just wants to buy things to insulate themselves from the deeper issues that need addressed. It was the hope of Jefferson that educated people would become leaders of our nation and put their brains to work to constantly keep our country great. Instead of those great men and women, we find ourselves led by representatives who put themselves first and foremost and who don't care about the country as much as they care about themselves. Government itself isn't the problem, it's the people who are being elected to govern. Blame that on the selfishness and apathy of your silent majority who see government as only something that takes part of their paycheck away in taxes. Instead of thinking about the whole, getting involved, and electing the kind of people who will use that money wisely and do the right thing, we just pull the lever for whoever claims they will cut taxes. It's a mess. We have few inspirational leaders and instead we have a cycle of self-interest modeled by those elected to lead and aped by those who put them there.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2008 8:21:19 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 17, 2011 11:44:40 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2008 8:25:11 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 17, 2011 11:44:40 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2008 8:27:27 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Mar 17, 2011 11:44:40 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 9:19:05 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 23, 2011 9:41:34 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2008 10:48:14 AM PDT
Enigma says:
Response to K.S

>>an "equitable system of taxation" ... Conservatives want those things too
Really? Have you compared McCain's tax plan to Obama's?

Yes and even Obama is backing off of his plan to hurt the economy by the oppressive tax increases he wants.

Also, since over 40% of all Americans pay no Federal Income Tax just why should they get a handout from the government, this is called plunder, taking money from someone else to give to others and is totally unfair.

>>How about public education?
How about it? Pretty darned good deal if you ask me. Thomas Jefferson thought public education essential to a healthy democracy. I agree.

It should be, but the public education system has been under the control of democrats for over 50 years and our scores are abysmal. It's not the lack of money, we have more money per student then virtually every country in the world instead it is the curriculum that is broken.

>>All that Federal payola that gets grafted back into 'favored' districts, so we can build "bridges to nowhere"

And get money from corrupt Fannie mae and Freddie Mac, Obama has received the second largest amount of payola from these to corrupt institutions, pretty darn good considering he has only been office for less then 3 years.

>>>Your numbers are wrong. Obama's plan for example does raise taxes by a mere $12 a year on people earning between $227,000 and $603,000.

WTF, are you delusional, the average increase for a person making 300,000 a year under Obama's original plan was close to $ 45,000 a year - $12 sure buddy, you've been worshiping your messiah obama too long now.

>>>The real rise come to people earning more than $603,000. Comparing McCain's and Obama's tax plans, Obama cuts taxes for people earning $75,000 by $1290... McCain only by $1,009.

Oh Dear, not true again, McCain's tax plan is more generous too low income earners while not as punitive to high income earners.

>>>It's in the lower end and upper end where the plans really differ. McCain gives huge breaks to the richest 2%, and Obama taxes that upper echelon heavily.

You got it partially correct, Obama DOES want to tax heavily, but where you are WRONG is that McCain's plan does not give ANY tax breaks to high income earners, that is completely false.

Obama wants to take huge chunks of money from the rich and give it to the non-workers, illegal's, drug addicts, etc. It is the same ploy, the Democrats have used in the past, buying votes of the bottom rung of the ladder with free money.

Anyone who supports Obama should look at the other progressive countries in the world, most of them have been dropping their tax rates and some have completely eliminated capital gains tax and guess what has happened, their economies have taken off and the tax revenues are up.

PS It's great to want to support your candidate, but at least get your facts straight ($12, lol)

PSS I have already voted and I didn't vote for either one of the two bozos.
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