Review: Off Center–The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (Hardcover)

5 Star, Democracy, Politics

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars We Have to “Go For Broke” in 2008,

May 1, 2006
Professor Jacob S. Hacker
This is a tremendous book. It joins The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World; The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics and Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders (by Tom Coburn, about how the “Party” turns elected representatives into slaves to the party line and against their constituencies). When combined with the latter books and Ralph Nader’s long-standing complaints about “the system,” these authors can take credit for adding useful new insights as to how extremist Republicans (who can indeed be likened to Hitler’s movement in the efficacy of their take-over of a Nation with limited numbers–and I say this as a moderate Republican furious over the loss of MY party’s reason) have pulled off the theft of a Nation and the looting of the middle class through the working poor.

I am especially taken with the authors’ examination of how the extremist Republicans have been able to systematically lie to the public and get away with it. Their discussion of “backlash insurance” and how they have managed to coerce the moderate Republicans (such as my favorite moderate Republican, Congressman Rob Simmons, R-CT-02) into going along is a very helpful contribution to public understanding of how we got so far off center.

The authors conclude with a fine review of the four major obstacles to political reform.

Where they fall short is in failing to develop a solution. A number of us in the Greater Democracy movement have in fact developed a solution, and in the next three lines I hope you will see our solution as a fitting epilogue to this five-star book:

1) Accept that the Democrats cannot beat the Republicans base on base, issue on issue, or even on leadership, nor do we want them to. Instead, we need to create a Citizens Party that is a non-rival (this is important–NON-RIVAL) “second home” or “dual membership” party with wings for each of the existing parties–Democratic, Republican, Green, Reform, Libertarian, etcetera. This coalition of moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats, and all others can indeed beat the extremist Republican base if it aligns with the left of center but at least not lunatic Democratic base.

2) Accept that there is one issue and one issue ONLY where we can all agree: that the government is out of control and we need to restore representative democracy through a National Electoral Reform Act of 2007.

3) Finally, focus in 2008 on getting every incumbent and every challenger to join the Citzens Party and testify in writing that they will support the National Election Act of 2007 or face recall. Agree, or retire.

This is not rocket science. With the Internet where it is now, and the ground-breaking work of Joe Trippi (see also my review of his book, of Bill Moyer’s Doing Democracy, and of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics), we can do this.

The authors help make the case for WHY we have to go for broke this time around–it’s all for one and one for all time. We stick together on this one, this time, or we surely will go nuclear, fascist, and broke.

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