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Breakthrough: a book about why liberals should stop being whiny bitches

QinguQingu Registered User regular
edited February 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
I am reading a book called Breakthrough: The Death of Environmentalism and the Politics of Possibility. It is an expansion of a 2004 essay called "The Death of Environmentalism" that apparently made waves throughout the progressive community.

http://www.thebreakthrough.org/

The main thrust of the book is that liberals should stop defining ourselves as victims and stop using a rhetoric of "limits"—not just to combat global warming but to advance progressive causes in general. It is a broadside against identity politics-based movements like "environmental justice," and attacks the condescending attitude liberals have towards the poor and evangelicals.

The authors are apparently well-regarded for their polling and statistical analysis. I think they have a very interesting take on the rise of evangelicals. Unlike a lot of liberals who blame the rise of the religious right on poverty and hopelessness, Breakthrough claims that evangelicals, like liberals and virtually all Americans, have more than met their material needs, and their religiosity is a post-material status-grab, and a reaction against the perceived hedonism of liberal post-material status grabs (like Hollywood excesses and New York rich people).

Everything I've read so far is very similar to the strategies and rhetoric of Obama's campaign. I wouldn't be surprised if he is a fan.

However, halfway into the book, I'm seeing a lot more criticism and diagnosis than concrete solution proposals.

Dis quss!

Qingu on

Posts

  • caradrayancaradrayan Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Of course evangelicals have met their material needs. Nobody evangelizes or gives %10 to the church when they are working two jobs struggling to make ends meat.

    well, not nobody, but most evangelicals are self sufficient.

    What to do about it? Be more like Obama, less like Hilary. Hilary herds cats, Obama inspires. Let the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot. (continue shooting) and reap the rewards.

    caradrayan on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2008
    The run of the mill fundie may be self-supporting (for the most part, see the Duggars), but their leaders sure as shit aren't. They live off the fat of their flock, and often that flock don't have a whole lot of fat to spare. book sounds interesting, I'll try and take a look at it when I've got the time.

    I will say in the meantime that environmental rhetoric is by no means as monolithic or negative as people seem to think. They're just so scared of some nerd with a beard taking all their stuff that they don't pay very close attention.

    The Cat on
    tmsig.jpg
  • QuothQuoth the Raven Miami, FL FOR REALRegistered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Haven't studies shown that poor folks tend to give more money to churches than rich folks? Or a higher percentage of their incomes, maybe? I seem to recall reading that somewhere and being surprised. Or maybe not surprised, but saddened.

    Even my sister, who is a Clinton supporter, admits that her speeches are less inspiring than Obama's because they tend to focus on concrete policies rather than more abstract principles. And I think that's why she's losing, and why Gore lost (sort of) back in the day: people don't want the blueprint, they want the summary. They don't want the book, they want the Cliff's Notes. They elect government officials to get that stuff done so they don't have to wade through mountains of paperwork, and instead can devote their time to American Idol.

    Not saying whether that's good or bad, but that's a republic for you.

    Quoth on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited February 2008
    Eh, I think I might be over-representing the book's focus on evangelicals, that was just the chapter that I most recently read (and am most personally interested in).

    I also should have mentioned the book's views on health care. It claims that most Americans don't really care about universal health care because most Americans already have health care. Their problem is not that they don't have health care but that their current health care worries them.

    This goes along with the book's repeated claim that people generally do not care about other groups of people unless they are in a position of power, comfort, or affluence. The insured would care much more about the uninsured if their insurance was more affordable and easy to use—but as the situation is now, the insured are actually reactionary towards the uninsured because they are so paranoid about their own health insurance that they worry that adding 50 million uninsured would fuck it up even more.

    I thought this was an interesting take on the failures to reform America's health care, and also right in line with Obama's policies.

    Qingu on
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