The New Democrats and the Return to Power

Overview

After Barack Obama's solid win in the 2012 election, it's easy to forget that there was a time, not long ago, when the Democrats were shut out of power for over a decade. But Al From remembers. In 1984, he led a small band of governors, US senators, and members of Congress to organize the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Their mission: to rescue the party from the political wilderness, redefine its message, and, most importantly, win presidential elections. In April 1989, From traveled to Little Rock, ...

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The New Democrats and the Return to Power

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Overview

After Barack Obama's solid win in the 2012 election, it's easy to forget that there was a time, not long ago, when the Democrats were shut out of power for over a decade. But Al From remembers. In 1984, he led a small band of governors, US senators, and members of Congress to organize the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Their mission: to rescue the party from the political wilderness, redefine its message, and, most importantly, win presidential elections. In April 1989, From traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, to recruit the state’s young governor, Bill Clinton, to be chairman of the DLC. Here, Al From explores the founding philosophy of the New Democrats, which not only achieved stunning validation during Clinton's two terms, but also became the model for resurgent center-left parties in Europe and throughout the democratic world. Here, he outlines for the first time the principles at the heart of the movement, including economic centrism, national security, and entitlement reform, and why they are vital to the success of the Democratic Party in the years ahead.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-20
Democratic Leadership Council founder From provides a deep insider's view of the council's agenda-setting evolution and the guiding of Bill Clinton into the White House. Before Clinton's 1992 election, the Democratic Party had been irrelevant in the previous six presidential election cycles, with the exception of Jimmy Carter riding the Nixon debacle. Still, From refused to participate in the death spiral, choosing instead to resuscitate fundamental elements of the party identity: opportunity and responsibility, lack of special privileges, no-nonsense internationalism, tolerance, inclusion, national service and community. The author begins with the pre-DLC strategizing, moves through its formative years with Charles Robb and Sam Nunn, and closely follows Clinton's ascendency. He offers an advanced course in political maneuvering, an often messy affair with countless incidents of treachery and backfiring. He discusses how to promote civil rights but not alienate the Southern vote, how to counter the influence of party bosses and interest-group leaders, how to captivate important audiences outside the Congress (press, political strategists, intellectuals, policy wonks), and the importance of a policy institute and regional chapters. Though the author occasionally paints in broad strokes, he provides useful examples throughout. From is a results man and likes to sink his teeth into problems, ranging from combating inflation to the prickly issue of Clinton's alleged paramour Gennifer Flowers, though he is not averse to a bit of chest-thumping ("Over the next three years, [Ed] Muskie, with me at his side, sowed the seeds for what would grow into the important underpinnings of the New Democratic movement"). From's main interest, however, is the continued tuning of the DLC platform, including "spending reductions, modernizing entitlements, and increasing revenue by reforming the tax code." A well-detailed guide to the organizational and philosophical workings of one successful political strategy.
From the Publisher
“It would be hard to think of a single American citizen who, as a private citizen, has had a more positive impact on the progress of American life in the past 25 years than Al From.” —Bill Clinton

Al From redefined centrist politics and provided the ideas and organization to move the Democrats from opposition to government, showing progressives across the world how to be principled, modern and in power.” —Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom

"I always wished I could be as smart as Al, and this book shows why. He shows what it was really like to be present at the creation of a movement that would take the Democrats from the wilderness to the White House, forever changing the course of American political history.  This is a book about ideas as much as the people who forged them into a winning strategy, and it should be read, re-read and underlined by anyone who wants to know what it takes to be successful in American politics today." — Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and former White House Chief of Staff

" This book is not only a fascinating and underreported slice of political history, but a reminder of the core principles that still drive Democratic success today — and why it's important that we constantly work to further to them." — Martin O’Malley, Governor of Maryland

“Before 1992, the Democratic Party had moved too far to the left to win national elections. Too little credit is given to Al From, whose book tells the story of how he helped move his party back toward the common sense center.” — Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi

The American business community owes a big debt of gratitude to Al From. With vision and persistence he helped lead a major political party back to the principles of private sector growth, trade, jobs, personal responsibility, and fiscal stability. This book proves that the political center can win politically and govern effectively. Both parties — and the American people — would be wise to learn from Al's inspiring story. — Thomas J. Donohue, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

”Al From is given well-deserved credit for winning a political war–and as his legacy, proving that Democratic, progressive government could win national elections and govern effectively.”—Lanny Davis, Washington Times

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781137278647
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/3/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 152,327
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Al From is founder of the Democratic Leadership Council. Called a “legislative genius” by Washingtonian Magazine, From played a prominent role in the 1992 election of President Bill Clinton and served as Domestic Policy Advisor to the Clinton transition. Before founding the DLC in 1985, From was executive director of the House Democratic Caucus, served in President Jimmy Carter’s White House, and was staff director of the US Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations.

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