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We the Purple: Faith, Politics, and the Independent Voter Hardcover – March 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In the same what-you-see-is-what-you-get voice that fans of Diary of a Misfit got to know and love, Ford gives a personal overview of the misunderstood, ill-defined estimated 42 percent of American voters known as Independents. In her informal, conversational way, she not only offers a peek at the trajectory she followed to independent political thinking, but provides a map through the maze of organizations, blogs, movements and philosophies of her fellow Purples. The insights of an eclectic representation of such folk, ranging in age from 23 to 87, illustrate the diversity of voters unwilling to toe a party line. A woman of faith, Ford dislikes any pigeonholing of her politics based solely on her religious beliefs. If anything disappoints about this highly accessible must-read for anyone feeling lost in the current political process, it's the lack of a formal conclusion, which feels a bit like Ford went to refill her cup and forgot to come back to the table. Still, elected officials should make this required reading, as should political independents.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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This is a small book, a serious book, with a wonderfully educational gloassry, very serious endnotes, and a list of ten web sites that I am immediately adding to the home page of Earth Intelligence Network.
The author introduces herself as a voter without a party and a Christian without a church, and having myself been so very angry with the parties and the churches this immediately grabs me.
She credits Barney Frank early on with being the originator of the "purple states" term from which is derived "purple voter," and as a military person I am further impressed because "purple" is the color we use to define truly joint integrated operations that are not corrupted by inter-service rivalry.
The author discusses how from 2006-2009 the polls consistently have shown that 33-39% of America is neither Democratic nor Republican, and I observe a Pew poll just in the last two weeks that puts self-defined independents at 39%, the Democrats at 33%, and the Republicans at 26% or so and falling.
I have a note to myself, this book is a pre-cursor and companion to both Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny and Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.
Page 9-10 (after a long preface) have a list of citizen grievances, I will quote just the first one:
"We're tired--tired of two parties whose main priority is self-preservation and self-promotion rather than serving the people who voted them into office."
This is of course correct, and I would add that it is the loss of integrity across the government--executive as well as within Congress--that is responsible. See among other books Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders and Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency.
The author discusses a number of electoral reforms that are needed, including non-partisan elections, universally-available write-in options, the instant run-off (and variations I was unaware of), term limits, getting rid of the money, an end to gerrymandering (tightly drawn distrcits), and an end to party registration as part of the voting process. All good stuff, see my comments for the list of eight reforms in the Electoral Reform Act that a number of us have press pressing on since the year 2000 while Al Gore sold his integrity for what we now know has become a $100 million pay-off. See The Best Democracy Money Can Buy for the back-story, all known to Gore three months in advance of the election.
I am much taken with the author's brief discussion of how Independents are NOT "undecideds" and are not "swing" voters either. The discussion of how the media ignores (disenfranchises) independent voters, and how the Internet is now empowering ordinary people, is worthy.
I like the author's conclusion that mixing religion and politics is a huge mistake.
Finally I have a note on the author's view that abortion and gay rights are two issues that divide us, and although I did not see this in the book, my own conclusion inspired by others is that we are wasting all of our time arguing about the 20% where we cannot agree, instead of focusing on the 80% where we can make gains: education, family, health, etcetera.
Here are six other books that support and bracket this one:
Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics
Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life
Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)
There are so many books I wish I could link to, especially with respect to betrayal of the public trust by government and the inappropriate insertion of religious ideology into both domestic and foreign affairs. See the comment for a link to my reviews of 500+ non-fiction books, all organized to empower individual citizens with knowledge not available to them from any political source.
As stated on my blog before, I tend to shy away from political posting, since that is not the purpose of my blog. However, We the Purple is a great read for anyone, both believer or non-believer in Christ, who is tired of today's two party political system.
For the record, I'm am politically what most would consider a "conservative." I'm actually becoming more libertarian in my views as I get older, as I see the grace and mercy of Christ that has been given to me so that I can share it with others. I still enjoy listening to conservative talk radio, though I am not a mind-numbed robot. You might say I am pretty much a Reagan conservative with libertarian leanings.
In a nutshell, We the Purple is all about the growing "independent" movement sweeping across the political landscape. I would venture a guess that this movement is much larger than most of us perceive, simply because it is not organized around a central authority or party office. The independent political movement is grassroots, and covers the gamut of political thought from "ultraconservative to ultraliberal. Some are antiabortion, others proabortion [sic]. Some support the war in Iraq; others oppose it. Some oppose gay marriage; some support it, and still others don't care one way or another about what they consider to be a nonissue [sic]."
What Marcia Ford has discovered, and become a part of herself, is a movement that is more concerned about leading America forward together than about "might makes right" political clout.
For me, since I've tried to pull back on my interest in politics in the last five years or so, the book started out fairly slow. About halfway through the book though, she spoke about something near and dear to my heart: the power and influence of bloggers. Ford takes some time to notate how the political landscape has been forever changed by the involvement of the blogging community, even to the extent of successfully removing politicians from office, and getting policies changed.
Where the book REALLY struck a chord with me is in the section called "The Disintegration of Worship." I love how Ford delves into the reality that the Evangelical Right's support of the Republican party has not advanced the fight against abortion in any significant way. She also gives anecdotal evidence how that, even in liberal churches, support from the pulpit for particular political ideology has done little more than polarize the church. (Jeremiah Wright anyone?)
She taps into the basic idea that, when we bring politics into the church, the church is no longer functioning as it should. A house once dedicated to worship and prayer finds itself doing little of either when it allows politics to determine its destiny. Rather, teach your congregation the essentials of the faith, and watch them live out that faith.
I would recommend We the Purple to just about anyone. Even if you are not interested in politics, you will learn a good bit about history and America's political system. You might also find yourself to be more involved in the process, but not in obvious ways. My only criticism of the book would be the cover design. I see what they were trying to do in designing it, but based on cover design alone, I would never have picked the book up in the book store. So, don't judge a book by its cover, literally.