Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals

Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals

by Eric Alterman
     
 

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The bestselling author and Newsweek columnist takes a characteristically irreverent look at the rampant mistreatment of liberals and liberalism

The "most honest and incisive media critic writing today"(National Catholic Reporter), Eric Alterman is committed to restoring the liberal tradition to its honored place as the political philosophy of

Overview

The bestselling author and Newsweek columnist takes a characteristically irreverent look at the rampant mistreatment of liberals and liberalism

The "most honest and incisive media critic writing today"(National Catholic Reporter), Eric Alterman is committed to restoring the liberal tradition to its honored place as the political philosophy of mainstream American citizens. In this bracing and well-documented counterattack on right- wing spin and misinformation, Alterman briskly disposes of the canards and false definitions that have been foisted upon liberals by the right and have been accepted unquestioningly by nearly everyone else. The perfect post-election book for all those who are ready to fight back against the conservative mudslinging machine and reclaim their voices in the political process, Why We're Liberals brings clarity and perspective to the possibility of a new day in America.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is difficult to imagine anyone better qualified to update Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s notion of liberalism as the 'vital center' of American politics."
-The New York Times

"A vigorous defense of liberalism as a credo-a credo, Alterman argues persuasively, that most Americans actually subscribe to."
-The Atlantic

Library Journal

Never mind that liberalhas for decades been a perjorative word when used by the Right. The "we" in Alterman's title stands for America rather than merely progressive Democrats. That's Alterman's point: he reminds readers that many Americans define themselves as embracing liberal values and that the country's political future could turn on a renewed understanding of liberalism. Those open to the concept will enjoy this read-and may wish to recommend it to others who think that liberalis a dirty word. (This is not a "handbook" in ready-reference terms.) [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/07.]


—Donna L. Davey, Margaret Heilbrun
Kirkus Reviews
A longtime cheerleader for progressive causes makes an enthusiastic though not entirely original case that liberalism is poised to rise again. "Liberal" is only a "dirty word" so long as people are confused about what it means, avers Alterman (What Liberal Media?: The Truth about Bias and the News, 2003, etc.). In reality, he argues, most Americans are liberal. They believe that government should care for those who can't care for themselves, that health care is a fundamental human right, that corporate profits are out of control. Starting with the Enlightenment, Alterman walks briskly through the history of American liberalism, pinpointing as the end of its hegemony the late 1960s, when liberal policies improved the living conditions of minorities but greatly increased the insecurity of the white working class. Since then, left-wing activists and thinkers have been systematically driven from American political and intellectual life, he contends, while conservatives have hijacked the mainstream media, claimed "tradition" and "patriotism" as conservative, not American, values and painted liberalism as a philosophy that rejects religion, is oblivious to national security, embraces elitism and supports restrictions on individual freedom. Alterman outlines a long list of obstacles liberals will have to overcome if they want to return to their former position of power: racial, ethnic and class conflicts among potential allies; the divide between secular and religious Americans; and a lack of disciplined networks to recruit converts. Nonetheless, after seven years under the Bush Administration, he thinks liberals can reclaim American hearts and minds, as long as they're willing to embrace theterm "liberal" and welcome people into the party who harbor conservative social positions or strong religious convictions-a majority of the U.S. population, the author notes. Alterman's conclusion-triangulate or perish-will be familiar to anyone who paid attention during the Clinton years, and it's unlikely to provide much comfort to readers who'd rather have their liberalism without a stiff shot of cultural conservatism. Agent: Tina Bennett/Janklow & Nesbit

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143115229
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/24/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"It is difficult to imagine anyone better qualified to update Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s notion of liberalism as the 'vital center' of American politics."
-The New York Times

"A vigorous defense of liberalism as a credo-a credo, Alterman argues persuasively, that most Americans actually subscribe to."
-The Atlantic

Meet the Author

Eric Alterman, media columnist for the Nation, is professor of English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, and “Altercation” weblogger for MSNBC.com. He is the author of five previous books, including The Book on Bush (with Mark Green), What Liberal Media? and Sound and Fury.

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