An exhortation, at once serious and lighthearted, for Americans to stop being bystanders as the country careens toward disaster. Blakely (American Mom, 1994; Wake Me When It's Over, 1989), a New Yorker now living in rural Michigan, is far from being paralyzed by the near-clinical ``political depression'' she describes in these pages, a depression brought on by paying too much attention to the bad news we're daily confronted with. Blakely despises those who would blame America's troubles on single mothers and broken families rather than on a social structure that, as she puts it, chooses to let some people suffer so that others might thrive (``The main problem with running a merciless government is that in a democracy, millions of voters have to agree to starvation''). Refusing to adopt the shrillness of dittoheads and other assorted pundits, but still full of righteous indignation, Blakely writes with pointed good humor of the social costs of being the conscience of the tribe: ``Canaries suffering the fumes of a toxic culture are not a pretty picture, and we should probably forego dinner invitations altogether until the air clears.'' She asks that others join her in shedding the media-induced damper on our political sensitivities, so that we ``could even start thinking this tragedy in Oklahoma City might have something to do with us, with the daily acts of violence in our own cities.'' The alternative, doing nothing, sinking into yuppie consumerdom and hoping for the best, is Blakely's worst nightmare, and she counsels against it with inspired cheerleading: ``Our survival--mental and physical--now depend[s] on tackling the big job `out there.' '' Devotees of Rush Limbaugh will almost certainly dismiss this as yet another liberal rant, but like-minded readers ought to find much to applaud in Blakely's arguments.