The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama

Overview


On the night of the 2008 presidential election, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel spoke for many: “For the first time in decades, electoral politics became a vehicle for raising expectations and spreading hope.” But, she cautioned, “We progressives need to be as clear-eyed, tough, and pragmatic about Obama as he is about us.”

Where I Stand collects vanden Heuvel’s commentaries and columns from the first years of the Obama administration, an era that has come to be defined by ...

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The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama

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Overview


On the night of the 2008 presidential election, Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel spoke for many: “For the first time in decades, electoral politics became a vehicle for raising expectations and spreading hope.” But, she cautioned, “We progressives need to be as clear-eyed, tough, and pragmatic about Obama as he is about us.”

Where I Stand collects vanden Heuvel’s commentaries and columns from the first years of the Obama administration, an era that has come to be defined by reform and reaction. In the wake of the economic crisis and challenges from the insurgent Tea Party movement, it is clear that it will take more than one election (and one person) to reshape American politics and repair the damage wreaked by a decade of calamitous conservative rule.

Vanden Heuvel challenges the limits of our downsized political debate, arguing that timid incrementalism and the forces of money and establishment power that debilitate American politics will be overcome only by independent organizing, strategic creativity, bold ideas, and determined idealism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nation editor vanden Heuvel lays down the left-liberal line in these earnest, stolid essays culled from her columns and editorials in the magazine. It’s a newsy compendium that covers the past three years of roiling politics while advancing recurring themes: the need to rein in Wall Street, tax the rich, create green jobs, pull out of Afghanistan, get money out of politics and Republicans out of office. It’s also an anguished narrative of the left’s disillusionment with Obama, lapsing from hope to disappointment as the president proffers one cave-in after another to intransigent conservatives. Vanden Heuvel isn’t much of a stylist, unfortunately. There are few surprises or grace notes in her prose; as her statistically fortified arguments proceed from problem to policy to exhortation—“It is a time for global, non-violent challenge to anti-democratic forces wherever they may be.” Still, there’s much to be said for her well-supported, fact-filled account: vanden Heuvel elaborates a cogent progressive alternative to the skewed choice between banker-friendly Democrats and Tea Party fanatics. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews

A collection of columns written by Nation publisher and editor vanden Heuvel (Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover,2009, etc.) covering the run-up to the last presidential election and events since.

The pieces first appeared on the Nation website or the Washington Post blog, where the author is a guest columnist. They chronicle the six years from the 2006 congressional election, during which the high expectations of pro-Obama progressives gave way to the disappointment now felt by many of his erstwhile supporters. In the introduction, vanden Heuvel writes that she counters times when she becomes depressed by the current political stalemate by "taking the long view of [what Dr. King called the] arc of history that bends toward justice." While she is disappointed in President Obama's failure to deliver on his campaign promises, she writes that she still believes in his message that "real change comes about by 'imagining and then fighting and then working for what did not seem possible before.' " The book is divided topically,with each section arranged chronologically, and the author provides a useful record of the period and progressive talking points--during a time which, for progressive Democrats, represented a series of defeats. In a piece written in January 2011, vanden Heuvel takes the long view, comparing the present period to the end of the 19th century when the Progressive Movement succeeded in opposing large monopolies despite what seemed to be overwhelming odds.

A welcome contrast to the frequently overheated political dialogue of the moment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568586885
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,538,630
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editor and Publisher of the Nation. She is a frequent commentator on ABC, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS. She writes a weekly Web column for the Washington Post. Her blog, “Editor’s Cut,” appears at thenation.com.
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