The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obamaby Katrina vanden Heuvel
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.
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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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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