AN EVEN BETTER PLACE by Richard Gephardt


America in the 21st Century
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Personal reflections and policy proposals from the minority leader of the House of Representatives. Gephardt (D-Missouri) is something of an anomaly within his party these days in that he actually sounds like a Democrat. He is pro-union, admits to being a liberal, thinks government has a positive role to play in the lives of American citizens, and doesn’t much like the policies of the Republicans. Yet as partisan as he is, he decries what he terms “the politics of personal destruction,” the vindictive war of innuendo and accusation between the two major parties that has been going on in Congress since the time of Watergate. Citizens, he fears, now view politics as little more than “gladiatorial entertainment” and so see little value in participating in the political process. Gephardt sounds sincere when he states that he believes such cynicism can be overcome and enumerates several ways in which cooperatively we can all make America an even better place. Unfortunately, he does not go into much detail on what specifically we all might do. Though he covers a number of important policy areas—from labor relations to health care, foreign trade to schooling—his recommendations are safely vague, his arguments underdeveloped. He is perhaps most effective when he ties his own son’s battle with cancer to the need for health-care coverage for all Americans, but sums up what might be done in a single sentence suggesting that tax credits for small businesses could help. Assisted by former aide Wessel, Gephardt writes clearly and accessibly; it’s regrettable that he seems to feel the need to oversimplify in order to reach a wide audience. Not bad, as books by politicians go. Gephardt does seem to truly care about where America is headed. However, he’s ambiguous as to just where that might be. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-891620-16-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999