Fighting Back Against The Hostile Takeover
by Scott Shields, Tue May 02, 2006 at 05:54:39 AM EDT
David Sirota posted here the other day to talk about his new book Hostile Takeover, but I also wanted to weigh in with my two cents. For those of you who have already read and enjoyed Crashing The Gate, Sirota's new book will serve as an awesome follow-up. That said, it's important not to view Hostile Takeover as another book giving broad-brush advice to Democrats on what they've been doing wrong and how they can change course.
Though Hostile Takeover certainly skewers errant Democrats for pursuing losing strategies and buying into corrupt ideologies, it's far more targeted than that, making it, in my opinion, one of the more vital political books I've ever read. For one thing, it's laid out less like a standard political tome full of one consultant's advice and more like an encyclopedia. Pick up the book, open to any chapter, and there's the issue, spelled out from top to bottom, complete with myths, lies, heroes, hacks, and solutions. In fact, I almost wished he'd serialized the chapters, if for no other reason than progressive politicians could stash them individually in their pockets. The book is chock full of real world examples of the impact of bad policy decisions and the incredibly obvious steps to take to fix them. It goes beyond talking points though, serving more as a primer on the most pressing issues facing the country. If you've ever felt that your knowledge of policy was lacking in certain cases (I know I have), Hostile Takeover's a great way to get clued in.
Near the end of Crashing The Gate, Jerome and Markos write that they "like to believe that the ideas that will lead the Democratic Party to a new governing majority already exist, but they need to be articulated clearly." The "solutions" that close every chapter of Hostile Takeover serve as an answer to that call. The current oil crisis facing the country? "Make every car in America a flexible-fuel vehicle." The fact that there are nearly 46 million uninsured Americans? "Extend Medicare to all citizens." People are crying out for tax reform? "Fix the regressive payroll tax." And of course, this just scratches the surface of the policy proposals Sirota offers up in the book.
One of the things I always try to do in my writing, which Sirota is brilliant at, is to make sure that the connections are made between bad policy decisions and the real world impact those decisions have on real human beings. We get so caught up in issues in the abstract that we tend to lose sight of the fact that real people lose out when so many political decisions are made. This book painstakingly pieces together the corporations, their industry groups, the lobbyists, the campaign contributions, the members of Congress, the legislation, and -- finally, that most important piece too many political writers leave out -- the impact on peoples' lives.
Piecing together all of this information, it's easy to see where some people would want to roll over and play dead. But that wasn't the feeling I was left with after reading the book. The book accomplishes all of this with a sense of humor, never making its goals seem too impossible. If there's one thing people like David, Jerome, and Markos have brought to the Democratic table over the last few years, it's a sense of empowerment. This is not a politics of disengagement and despair. The fight won't be easy, and it won't likely end with the next election, but with this kind of intellectual firepower on our side, I'm pretty confident we're going to be able to win it.