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NOTES ON THE FUTURE OF OUR DEMOCRACY

Nothing earth-shattering, but Yang offers thoughtful, sensible proposals for a better democracy.

A plan to make America work better, from the former presidential and New York City mayoral candidate.

Like many observers, Yang sees the U.S. beset by economic and political problems. “Our physical health, mental health, financial security, and expectations for the future,” he writes, “have all been declining or at multi-decade lows for years.” Sharing lessons from the campaign trail, as founder and CEO of Venture for America—a nonprofit that channels enterprising recent college graduates into startups—and as founder of Humanity Forward, which promotes a “human-centered economy,” the author proposes key structural changes. Election reform is paramount: When Yang first declared as a candidate, he felt largely ignored by the media until he grew in popularity on Twitter. The market drives media coverage, he asserts, and media thrive on fomenting polarization. Yang proposes open primaries and ranked-choice voting, which, he argues, better accounts for voter preferences. Noting that most members of Congress were elected in the 1980s or ’90s, Yang advocates term limits, which would also lessen lawmakers’ need for constant fundraising for reelection. Addressing legislative gridlock, the author acknowledges that government bureaucracies are “designed for stasis and inaction.” Lawmakers are “actively discouraged” from bipartisan cooperation, and lobbyists have undue influence. Yang proposes getting rid of the filibuster and convening “civic juries” to inform legislators about their constituents’ real concerns. Technological upgrading is crucial, as well—e.g., the creation of a citizen portal where people could renew licenses, file tax information, get benefits, and register to vote. As a presidential candidate, Yang famously proposed a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 a month, and he also advocates health care for all. The pandemic, he notes, has exacerbated divisiveness and sparked racism—which, as an Asia American, Yang has experienced directly. The most significant things the country needs, he believes, are grace, tolerance, and forgiveness.

Nothing earth-shattering, but Yang offers thoughtful, sensible proposals for a better democracy.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-23865-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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