This book, by one of America's most intelligent and decent political writers, tells liberals how the conservative movement rose and fell, and how they could emulate its successes while avoiding its failures.
--George Packer, author of Blood of the Liberals and The Assassins' Gate
""No one is better than Todd Gitlin at describing the crucial dynamic through which movements gain or lose political power. Justly celebrated for his seminal work on such dynamics during the 1960s, Gitlin now explains everything that's happened since, with passion and wisdom--and happily, because of Bushism's collapse, legitimate optimism about the future.""
--Michael Tomasky, Editor, Guardian America
""An impassioned yet realistic plea for Democrats and liberals to become more serious about politics. They would do well to follow his advice.""
--Alan Wolfe, Director, Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Boston College
""A brilliant and indispensable book. Gitlin convincingly urges liberals to take seriously the greater difficulty the Democrats have forging cohesion among identity-based groups over the Republicans persuading the less diverse Republican base to bury disagreements in the drive for victory. Gitlin argues that Democrats will have to bite the bullet and unite under a big tent. It's a hard lesson for ardent newcomers to the movement to swallow. Gitlin is dead right.""
--Thomas B. Edsall, Special Correspondent, The New Republic
""This is an indispensable book by one of our most gifted public intellectuals. Todd Gitlin explains--with splendid scholarship, reporting, and wit--how the Bush machine debased our political life and how progressives, in all their variety, are struggling to build a new majority. It is the best guide we have to America's recent past and its possible future.""
--Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan and Professor of History, Georgetown University
* Like Krugman, Gitlin lays the blame for political polarization squarely on George Bush and the Republican Party. ""The core of their rule,"" he writes, ""is a bulldozer approach to reality -- belligerence as an all-purpose style, whether facing domestic critics or the rest of the world."" The problem facing liberals, he says, is that although they are increasingly galvanized, they don't have the numbers to govern alone. They must form a big tent of ""secularists and moderate evangelicals, budget-balancers and Keynesians, fair traders and free traders. . . . "" Gitlin, a Columbia professor and longtime liberal activist, admits that this will not be easy. But he suggests the answer is probably more Democratic Party ""discipline"" and partisanship, not less: ""The denizens of the tent will need to remind themselves that outside there dwell barbarians."" (The Washington Post
, November 18, 2007)
Professor and political analyst Gitlin (former president of SDS) utilizes the current president's political trajectory as a jumping off point for a sprawling discussion of the rise of the republican machine, the reasons behind the democrats' declining fortunes and the impact of this political imbalance on the average citizen. This is a sort of State-of-the-Union update: encyclopedic in scope but eminently accessible and studded with juicy morsels of Capitol Hill gossip, little-known facts and generally excellent writing. The fact that the Democratic National Committee did not have a national voter database until late 2003 is stunning, and Gitlin claims that a perpetual "war on terror" is precisely what the conservative cognoscenti want: "as long as fear is so salient to voters, Democrats will be staggering uphill." Many of Gitlin's conclusions are not necessarily new, but Gitlin's conclusions and suggestions--often missing from such political landscape surveys--for the liberal movement are impressive. His call for a simple but powerful narrative to match that of the Conservatives merits special attention from the leaders of a party made up of (at least) eight distinct voter groups. (Sept.) (Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2007)