Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc (AU)
This price was set by the publisher.
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet or computer – no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera, scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing ‘Send link’, you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message and data rates may apply.
Follow the Author
The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition Kindle Edition
About the Author
- ASIN : B000FC1V74
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster (26 July 2004)
- Language : English
- File size : 430 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 192 pages
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Review this product
Top reviews from other countries
The book included a great quote from Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson- "Wisconsin can get a new Senator, I can't get a new conscience." You aren't likely to read about any of today's Senators making that comment.
One of Mr. McGovern's poignant questions was "where is the peace dividend?"
After the cold war ended there was an expectation that defense spending would be reduced. As he states, it's not the burden of the military to export or spread democracy.
His highlighting of the farewell addresses of both Washington and Eisenhower was used effectively to show a point.
He questions why we don't trade with Cuba but we trade with China? Good question. It really makes no sense.
I don't agree with Mr.McGovern on more than a few issues. Seperation of church and state is but one of them. His view of Woodrow Wilson is another.
But McGovern explains his viewpoints eloquently, stating that he is a "straightforward patriot and a strong advocate of constitutional democracy."
His concern with hunger is admirable as well as his concern for the American worker and family farmer.
He proposes protecting the American worker from corporations that exploit cheap labor and bad working conditions with a possible closing of the American markets to those corporations.
"The Essential America" is well worth the read for it's common sense observations and ideas whether the reader is a Democrat or Republican.
He also argues that the preemptive and illegal war with Iraq has not made our citizens safer and is against everything America is supposed to stand for. For far less than what has been spent on this war we could have made our citizens safer by putting money into our police and fire departments and strengthening security in other areas. We now have a federal deficit over $8,000,000,000,000 and growing rapidly. To combat this we are cutting social programs at home, many that invest in the education and future of our youth and the health of our citizens. The book points out that after the end of the cold war the industrial-military complex which had grown so huge was facing having to downscale. The government had the opportunity to use money that went into defense normally in other areas in the form of a "peace dividend". Now a perpetual "war on terror" assures the industrial-military complex they are in the green forever and that we can invade wherever they have an interest (legitimate or not) in the name of combating "terror." How convenient, not my idea of how my country should operate though. What has all this accomplished? None of it has made us safer and has eroded world opinion and trust. Gee, I wonder who is benefiting from all this? I doubt the answer to this question is the average citizen.
Unfortunately, even if someone like former Senator McGovern were elected President it will be difficult now to do anything but try to dig us out of over $8 trillion in debt. Still we need a major change and much more honesty in our government. It makes me feel ill when I hear politicians invoke God's name constantly and pray in public meetings then refer to dead civilians as numbers they aren't interested in, endorse torture, and get caught in lie after lie. I personally am praying for a huge housecleaning in the next election.
"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. "In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. "The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war... and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
- James Madison, April 20, 1795
Modern politics, alongside modern media, has assisted in allowing Liberalism to be re-defined. But, this has only been made possible by political leaders who have lacked courage to challenge that re-definition. The end result has been the rise of a right-wing ideology that continues to represents its historical role of enforcing stagnation and the status-quo - i.e. maintaining the "order of things" on economics, gender, race, etc.
In the end, Liberals have no one to blame but themselves. Standing on the shoulder of giants, per the very Liberal achievements of the 20th century, should have never been easier. But, alas, enough Liberals ignored that history or abdicated courage in favor of getting re-elected. As a result, the Liberal impetus has been stripped, nay castrated, by a rhetoric that paints it as un-American or the symbol of failure.
And, until or unless, a Liberal leadership (re-)emerges with a voice and conviction equal to that of a Reagan era, Liberalism will continue to allow itself to be defined by reactionary forces. The observation by Bertrand Russell ("The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt") may tempt one towards despair, but fatalism has never been a trait of Liberalism.
While some of what Sen. McGovern writes may be seen as conceit or arrogance, they are rooted in a knowledge of the history of American Liberalism - and its accomplishments - that justifies that ambiance of confidence. Now, if only enough political leaders would translate such paper confidence to oratory and legislative confidence, would Liberalism restore its rightful place in American history so the 21st century can be as progressive as the 20th century.
It was not what I thought it would be. Much of its historical discussion is what I recall from Senator McGovern's prime, particularly his discussion of his Wesleyan beliefs, and how those played into his formation as a politician as well as how Wesley's teaching shaped the infant United States. He discussed positives of not just liberals but also conservatives in American history. His discussion of the Viet Nam war tragedy and the endless war against Islamic extremists made me want to weep.
However he started to lose me when he started tying together improbable at best analyses of the "present president" of the time, George W. Bush, casting aspersions as if President Bush had not made his mistakes without the wholehearted endorsement of a significant number of congressional Democrats and those who called themselves 'liberal'. This isn't just a minor problem. He loses the thread of his discussion time and again with this digression. I could see the point of a coherent disagreement but he loses coherence. At times I've got to admit that there were too many pages of material worthy of Georgio Tsoukalos, good reading of a great yarn, but as I said, improbable.
He also failed to address the sore damage that liberalism has done to America and to our future. There was nothing about the sexual revolution, nothing about the negative results of our war on poverty which has made millions dependent on government largess, nothing of the wrecking of our economy due to trade imbalance, loss of industry and the "fight to end global warming", nothing about the great emphasis liberals in the last few decades have made to suppress free speech and create artificial factions within our society. But perhaps the worst ommision, there was nothing about the millions of lives lost annually to our abortion industry and its liberal supporters. (These are lives which are just as real as the ones we snuff out when we carpet bomb third world countries.) I've always been surprised at this historical fluke, since the original abortion discussions took place in context of the fascist eugenics movement of the 30s and early liberals opposed such things.
All told, the book was OK, but not great. Readers should understand that it is not at all as comprehensive as it should be, focuses on transient issues and ignores the issues which would be the considered the greatest weaknesses of modern liberalism.