By being too timid and too weak, too hesitant and too confused, Democrats have allowed Republicans to run amok.
Republicans today control everything: the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the federal bureaucracy, the military, and the corporate special interests and their lobbyists. They operate powerful right-wing organizations, right-wing think tanks, and a conservative media that serves as an attack dog against Democrats.
Republicans have used their absolute power to corrupt our democracy, degrade our military, weaken our health care system, diminish our stature in the world, damage our environment, reward the rich, hammer the poor, squeeze the middle class, bankrupt our Treasury, and indenture our children to foreign debt holders.
In this important book, James Carville and Paul Begala show Democrats how they can take it back. They offer a clear-eyed critique of their party's failures and make specific, concrete recommendations on how Democrats can avoid losing elections on divisive issues such as abortion, gun control, gay rights, and moral values and start winning them on health care, political reform, energy, the environment, tax reform, and more.
Carville and Begala say that liberal Democrats are right that too many establishment Democrats kowtow to corporate interests and shamefully supported George W. Bush's rush to war. And moderate Democrats are right to complain that too many Democrats are out of step with middle-class values, too removed from people of faith, too enthralled with intellectual and cultural elites.
But the problem with the Democrats, Carville and Begala argue, is not ideological. It's anatomical. They lack a backbone. Take It Back is a spinal transplant for Democrats and an audacious battle plan for victory.
An intelligent, carefully outlined strategy to seize power from the Republicans and restore it to its rightful place slightly left of center, this book (despite Carville's "Ragin' Cajun" claim to gonzo liberalism) is remarkably reasonable and cleverly calculated to appeal to a broad spectrum of Americans. Carville and Begala have a solid grasp of the issues that concern the majority of citizens: moral values, political corruption, taxes, health care, energy issues and, of course, the war in Iraq. They are most persuasive when arguing for seemingly common-sense policies: their energy plan-conservation, environmental remediation and making a "real commitment to alternative fuels"-is based on the handling of the energy crisis of the 1970s that saw the U.S. cut energy use and oil imports while growing the GDP. Regarding health care, the authors argue for allowing employers to buy into the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, which offers 180 different plans to 9 million government employees. Some of the authors' arguments are harder to swallow; for example, the extremely speculative notion that had Al Gore been elected president, 9/11 could have been averted. And criticism of Republican leadership often devolves into name-calling and mudslinging. (Jack Abramoff, in a stroke of timely luck, receives his own section titled "The King of Republican Sleaze.") That aside, Carville's and Begala's book is a refreshing entry into a field long overcrowded by polarized, pedantic screeds.