Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WHY I AM A DEMOCRAT by Theodore C. Sorensen

WHY I AM A DEMOCRAT

By Theodore C. Sorensen

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4414-0
Publisher: Henry Holt

 A clear, though often redundant, argument for sticking with the Democrats in 1996. Sorensen (A Different Kind of Presidency, 1984, etc.), who served President Kennedy as policy adviser, chief counsel, and speechwriter, has lucidly and sensibly outlined the differences between Republicans and Democrats, and the reasons why, in his view, Democratic policies and priorities are better for America. He argues against voting for third-party candidates but saves his sharpest darts for the Republicans--who, he says, have silenced their moderate elements, demonized government (which everyone needs, especially the most disadvantaged, who tend not to vote), exploited race fears, and promoted irresponsible economics. These points have been made before, and Sorensen's prose is a bit dry, so Why I Am a Democrat is not the election year's most exciting political read. He repeats himself far too much and uses too many cute rhetorical devices; for instance, the last sentence of virtually every chapter contains the phrase ``I am a Democrat.'' These problems frequently encumber books written by professional speechwriters, who often fail to realize that while repetition and gimmickry can help a speech stick in a listener's mind, they bore and annoy on the printed page. Sorensen is not as insightful as E.J. Dionne, nor as witty as James Carville, both of whom have also written election-year pleas for liberalism. However, voters will need all the help they can get sorting out the differences between parties this year, given that the Clinton team does its best to obscure these differences, consistently hoping that their man will pass as a mild-mannered Republican (a strategy which, as Sorensen points out, is likely to backfire in the long run). In that context, this can be a helpful guide to basic, capital ``D'' Democratic principles.