This intriguing but limited Democratic agenda focuses on a pro-business economic platform.

THE OPPORTUNITY AGENDA

A BOLD DEMOCRATIC PLAN TO GROW THE MIDDLE CLASS

A political work offers a new vision for the Democratic Party centered on economic opportunities for the middle class.

“Had Democrats been successful in prioritizing and implementing” an economic agenda focused on middle-class Americans, Fisher and James contend, “the economic impact of COVID-19 would have been far less.” Fisher, a New York City real estate entrepreneur and co-chair of the governor’s Regional Economic Development Council, and James, the former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, are not Donald Trump supporters, but they save their harshest critiques for their own party. Rather than developing a long-term plan to help middle-class Americans, today’s Democratic politicians too often lean on “the public’s revulsion to Trump” as the center of their electoral strategy. In place of the party’s vague, anti-Trump approach, the authors propose an “Opportunity Agenda” revolving around economic uplift for the middle class. Believing that Americans elected Trump out of “their frustration with a brain-dead government,” the authors contend that a new generation of “Opportunity Democrats” who prioritize the economic needs of the middle class has the potential to revitalize America. They note, for instance, that Crawfordsville, Indiana, a nearly all-White, blue-collar town that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, has a “glaring lack of affordable childcare.” Government-supported day care, paid family leave, and other policies geared toward working families would have an immediate economic impact on small towns like Crawfordsville. Other items listed in their innovative agenda include a “new paradigm” in public education that emphasizes skills-based training, infrastructure improvements, and portable benefits that provide a safety net in today’s gig economy. Though the authors’ ambitious and cogent ideas will appeal to independents and moderate Democrats, many liberals may be put off by the book’s use of phrases like “return on investment” and its embrace of businesses (one idea, for example, is corporate control over high school curriculums in order to produce skilled laborers that best serve industry needs). In addition, some Democrats and independents may be unhappy that the social injustices clearly highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement—including systemic racism, police brutality, and mass incarceration—are left out of the authors’ plan.

This intriguing but limited Democratic agenda focuses on a pro-business economic platform. (acknowledgments, author bios, endnotes, index)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64543-081-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Amplify Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2020

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

THE AUTHORITY OF THE COURT AND THE PERIL OF POLITICS

Why the Supreme Court deserves the public’s trust.

Based on his 2021 lecture at Harvard Law School, Supreme Court Justice Breyer offers a selected history of court cases, a defense of judicial impartiality, and recommendations for promoting the public’s respect for and acceptance of the role of the judiciary in the future. The author regrets that many Americans see the justices as “unelected political officials or ‘junior varsity’ politicians themselves, rather than jurists,” asserting that “nearly all” justices apply “the basic same interpretive tools” to decide a case: “They will consider the statute’s text, its history, relevant legal tradition, precedents, the statute’s purposes (or the values that underlie it), and the relevant consequences.” Although Breyer maintains that all try to avoid the influence of ideology or political philosophy, he acknowledges that suggesting “a total and clean divorce between the Court and politics is not quite right either,” since a justice’s background, education, and experiences surely affect their views, especially when considering the consequences of a decision. The judicial process, Breyer explains, begins as a conference held once or twice each week where substantive discussion leads to preliminary conclusions. Sometimes, in order to find a majority, the court will take a minimalist perspective, allowing those who differ “on the broader legal questions to come together in answering narrower ones.” Noting that, in 2016, only 1 in 4 Americans could name the three branches of federal government, Breyer suggests a revival of civics education in schools so that students can learn how government works and what the rule of law is. He believes that confidence in government will result from citizens’ participation in public life: by voting, taking part in local governance such as school boards, and resolving their differences through argument, debate, cooperation, and compromise, all of which are “the embodiment of the democratic ideal.”

A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-674-26936-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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