A plan for progressives “to unrig [the] system” created by power-hungry conservatives.
Relying on her experiences as a legislative affairs assistant for Bill Clinton, a staff member for two Democratic senators, and her role as a lawyer for groups advocating for the right to abortions and other civil liberties, Fredrickson (Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over, 2015) illuminates how to wrest control of government away from current Republican Party domination. Readers who follow electoral politics will find little fresh rhetoric here, but the author is strong in her deconstruction of the successful Republican playbook. She then adapts legally and morally questionable techniques to a hoped-for progressive playbook that can roll back or erase many of the damaging Republican policies. Throughout the presentation of her agenda, Fredrickson maintains that her allies must forge ahead with the same ruthlessness as their adversaries. A large chunk of the book focuses on increasing the number of judgeships at all levels: federal, state, and municipal. Of course, as the author rightly points out, winning judicial posts means winning elections; most state-level judges run as partisan politicians in robes, and most federal judges rise through appointments from partisan politicians. Furthermore, winning elections requires years—sometime decades—of planning: raising money; recruiting qualified, electable candidates; and guaranteeing a strong turnout of sympathetic voters. Fredrickson offers useful examples of how Republican operatives have mastered such steps and how her own allies can do the same. At the close of the book, the author lists six concepts to “provide the foundation to protect and preserve American democracy for progressive values.” Among others, these include the need to “embrace small-d democracy,” “invest financial resources in progressive outcomes,” and “win elections through long-term constituency building and presence in state houses.”
With evident passion, Fredrickson mixes abstract concepts with specific procedures, making for a useful—but not groundbreaking—title for the progressive library.