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Taking the Fight to the Opposition,
This review is from: Stand Up, Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge (Hardcover)
E.J. Dionne is a mild-mannered, highly erudite Oxford graduate who pens reflective and intelligent political opinion pieces for the Washington Post. This book is a wakeup call to liberal-progressives that the battle so long thought lost by so many is far from that; the seeds for victory are at hand as long as the case is correctly made.
Dionne tackles the proposition that, because of a well-financed Republican spin machine, which has sought to demonize the word "liberal" and put forward the proposition that those who follow the philosophy's principles are misguided or worse, too many progressives have backed away from the fight and often taken apologetic positions. Dionne believes that any posture of defensiveness should be abandoned for an aggressive campaign. Dionne points out that, while moral fiber and patriotism are trotted out as staple Republican core values, the record tells a different story in instances where tax cuts are sought to please a wealthy coterie of party supporters and traditional beliefs about war and peace are turned upside down by neoconservatives who all too frequently seek to attack first and ask questions later.
A reporter who took the Howard Dean movement seriously from the beginning and was on the scene during key periods of the Vermont populist's presidential campaign, Dionne quickly noted that the fresh new face on the block was attracting a large support base by tackling the issues and asserting hard-core progressive positions on taxation, health care, and the environment. While Dean might not have won even one primary, Dionne was perceptive enough to notice that other more successful Democratic candidates, including John Kerry, began adopting a position of "We're fed up and we're not gonna take it anymore" rather than the more vanilla brand of "play it safe" politics earlier prevailing. By being afraid to tackle the bloated Republican special interest culture the twin dangers of 1) losing voters to the sidelines through apathy, or 2) losing them to Ralph Nader and Green Party candidates based on conviction are more likely to be realized. A solid agenda needs to be projected to counter an increasingly sharpening rightist Republican tilt. As Dionne notes, when this happens people become engaged, as was the case with the Dean movement.
Dionne believes, as does conservative political author Kevin Phillips, that the Republicans have abandoned the vital center. While they attempt to attack Democrats as being out of step with mainstream American voters, Dionne believes that the opposite is true, that the Democrats have the vital American center in reachable co-opting distance, and what is needed is the resolute tenacity and clarity of message to take control of mainstream America at the polls. Dionne argues that it is time to stop being timid and come forward with alternative proposals to a current Republican philosophy of hard core rightist rigidity that is a far cry from the conservatism of Senator Robert Taft and the centrist Republicanism of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.