Monday, August 27, 2012

Over the cliff: How Obama's election drove the American right insane

Over the cliff: How Obama's election drove the American right insane
By John Amato and David Neiwert

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II

When I picked up this book I had no intention of reviewing it; however, once I read it, I changed my mind for one reason: being a follower of politics, I think Amato and Neiwert (two outstanding writers) have accurately chronicled the politics of this moment (May, 2011).

Of course it’s true that both writers are biased.  Look at the title!  And, too, both writers write from a liberal-progressive slant.  Amato has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Forbes.  Neiwert has been featured in the Washington Post, Alon, Seattle Magazine, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report.  Also, Neiwert does online reportage for MSNBC.  What would you expect from these writers?

If you follow politics closely, and if you listen to MSNBC on a regular basis, some (not most!) of the information in this book will not be new.  There are many insights and ideas that are new since both writers have access to information not readily available to political junkies and their search ranged widely as they sought to provide information for this book.  It is clearly well-researched!  Also, both writers closely follow (just to write a book like this!) the rantings, ravings, and lunatic assertions and assumptions of the American right.  Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time.  Just the mention of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Ann Coulter, Patrick Buchanan, Michael Savage, Newt Gingrich, or Charles Krauthammer (among others) is enough to turn my stomach.  Although I have the same political leanings as both writers, I would not have wanted to pursue the research to write this book!

I thought that part of the paragraph on page 113 that represents Republican thinking (as well as the Koch and Coors families and FreedomWorks) pretty much sums up my problem with current politics and my issue with the right wing agenda.  Their goal is “to propagandize vulnerable Americans [especially the blue collar, uneducated, and barely literate right wing!] into believing that the fault for their tough economic times lies not with conservative governance (cutting taxes to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, demolishing regulations that protect the working class) but with minorities and welfare recipients—people, they were told, who are just lazy and don’t want to work for themselves and whose laziness is enabled by liberal policies.  It is, fundamentally, the practice of the politics of resentment, using cultural wedge issues to pry working-class people away from progressive politics” (p. 113).

The book is well-written (as you can tell from this quotation), to-the-point, and very well reasoned.  If for no other reason than representing the way that politics have come to be in the present day, this is a valuable and worthwhile book.

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