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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
United,
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
Becoming,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

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The Land of Flickering Lights
Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics

by Michael Bennet



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BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

Senator Bennet is running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, and published this book at the beginning of the 2019 campaign season. According to Bennet, the book serves two purposes:

  1. To "describe five moments when uncompromising factionalism destroyed [a] bipartisan incentive to govern the American republic" (p. 23)
  2. To "make the urgent case that... Americans must reclaim the ideals of the founders and repair the damage already done" due to hyper-partisanship. (p. 24)

According to our reading, the book serves two purposes that are somewhat different from what Bennet claims:

  1. Establish that the current Congress is hyper-partisan, and that all of the gridlock and legislative problems that result from that partisanship are because the Republican Party is unwilling to compromise with the Democrats.
  2. Establish that he, Bennet, IS willing to compromise with the Republican Party, as demonstrated by Bennet's bipartisan work on an immigration bill with the "Gang of Eight."

Presumably Bennet's purpose is to say something like, "The next Democratic President should be willing and able to work with Republicans in Congress, like I have." Other candidates have taken a more partisan approach, saying something like, "We should work hard to ensure a Democratic majority in both the Senate and the House, so the next Democratic President can accomplish the Democratic agenda without compromising with the Republicans."

Current polling hints that the Democrats will retain control of the House and not gain enough for majority control of the Senate. In that context, Bennet's moderate bipartisan attitude might make Presidential-Congressional relations more amicable. But other presidents have managed to work with opposite-party control of Congress -- such as President Trump working with the current Democrat-controlled House, and President Obama working with a Republican-controlled Senate. Nevertheless, Bennet has based his book -- and his campaign -- on his moderate bipartisanship.

Bennet cites five major examples of partisanship in the five major chapters of the book:

  1. The Senate filibuster rule for presidential nominees, which killed the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland
  2. The Republican Party's denial of climate change
  3. The Tea Party's uncompromising focus on "fiscal responsibility" which meant opposing all legislation including Great Recession bailouts.
  4. The Iran nuclear agreement which Barack Obama negotiated and Donald Trump overturned.
  5. The "Gang of Eight" bipartisan negotiation for comprehensive immigration reform (in which Bennet participated in the Senate, and which failed in the House).

Unfortunately, Bennet focuses on the political partisanship issues involved in the five issues above, and only mentions the policy issues in passing (We excerpt from those passing policy moments!). Focusing on partisan process -- the details of how the legislation passed or failed -- sounds very "dated" when Bennet describes partisan processes from years ago (even a pundit like me has trouble remembering the process details after years!). But the bigger problem with 294 pages of describing problems with hyper-partisan politics is that it sounds... hyper-partisan! Bennet bashes the Republican Party left ad right, and sounds like an extreme pro-Democrat partisan.

That's not actually what Bennet is--in fact he does try to work in a bipartisan manner, and nobody would ever call Bennet "extreme." In other words, Bennet behaves in the manner that this book describes as the ideal, even though the author of the book opposes that ideal by authoring the book. Our theory of why he portrays himself as a partisan extremist in his campaign book is that he KNOWS he's no partisan extremist, so he wants to appeal to the large group of partisan extremists too.

-- Jesse Gordon, Aug. 2019

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)


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The above quotations are from The Land of Flickering Lights
Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics

by Michael Bennet
.

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Page last edited: May 04, 2019

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