An inspiriting call for active citizen politics from Minnesota Senator Wellstone, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal whose passion for participatory politics is as enlivening as a breath of fresh air and as heart-gladdening as all things generous, inclusive, and discerning have a way of being.
Wellstone's is a politics of compassion, in pursuit of “affordable child care, good education for children, health security, living-wage jobs that will support families, respect for the environment and human rights, and clean elections and clean campaigns,” for he is a devout believer in electoral politics. His book is anecdotally rich, not in the manner of self-serving testimonials, but rather as examples of how politics can work on the local, personal level, outside the ridiculous folkways of the Senate floor, where issues give way to maneuvering. He is not content here to simply provide a laundry list of American governmental failures—many of which stem from economic injustices, in his opinion—but he endeavors to convey a sense of how grassroots organizing and participatory democracy (“the challenge is to make a place for all Americans at the decision-making table”) can educate an electorate still firmly behind the Bill of Rights to demand action on all fronts, from true welfare reform, where market forces aren't left to tend the hen house, to agricultural subsidies going where they are most needed, rather than agribusinesses. He provides insights into the pathetic defeat of health-care reform, a sobering portrait of how the Senate works, and why stumping in the hustings is not just effective politics (his own campaign is a worthy example), but fundamental to democracy. Wellstone also has a remarkable way of making what sounds naïve in other mouths sound sincere and realizable from his: “Politics is not about money and power games. It is about improving people's lives, about making our country better.”
Running counter to the tide, Wellstone's progressive, populist voice is as rare and bracing as that of our national bird.