Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook For Post-Bush America by Eric Alterman
By Bill Kohlhaase
The term “liberal” has been poisoned in the last 30 years. No matter that the vast majority of Americans support liberal policies—be it on legal abortion, health care, minimum wage, foreign policy or regulation of renegade business—the word itself is as popular as death. Eric Alterman, a professor of English and journalism in the liberal northeast wants us to understand what the word really means, what its goals really are and why the right wing wants to muddy true liberal ideology. His book presents a brief history of its definition and principles and, in a large, second section, explores the charges against liberals—“Why Do Liberals Hate Patriotism?”, “Why Are Liberals So Damn Elitist?”—and explains how these fallacies serve the right wing. More revealing of conservative tactics than liberal values, Alterman’s book isn’t afraid to signal when the left is weak on an issue and where improvement can be made. He may be preaching to the choir here, but he’s made an important contribution to a question that needs to be addressed if liberals expect political success of the sort America, after years of conservative domination, desperately needs.
Viking, hardback, 402 pages, $24.95