Politics

Listener Essay - I Liked Ike

Jun 23, 2016

  This listener essay is by Steve Lewis. 

I Liked Ike

I liked Ike. He looked like a nice man on the red, white and blue button I saw on someone’s lapel at the Bohack’s. Somebody’s grandpa. He also looked kind of snappy saluting the troops in that tan Army uniform on the newsreels at the Roslyn Movie Theater.

My parents, Jewish immigrants from the boroughs, liked Stevenson, the tall bald guy famous for having a hole in the sole of his shoe. They said, with that adult shake of the head, that he was “very smart, very smart,” which I figured meant that Ike was probably not so sharp. So when my first grade teacher asked who we were voting for I made the brainy choice and raised my right hand for Adlai, my left hand pushing my right elbow up above Joan Nordlinger’s hand waving furiously next to mine. But I privately hoped the nice man with a kindly smile on the button would win.

  After ten years at Wesleyan, John Hickenlooper found himself laid off from his first job as a geologist. So he rented a space in an empty warehouse in an empty pocket of Denver’s downtown to open a brewpub. He turned out to be a natural at the job; the pub was a huge success. In fifteen years, he blossomed from small business owner into millionaire at the helm of a string of pubs across the western United States. He was so influential in the community that, encouraged by many, he ran for mayor of Denver, essentially as a lark. And then he won.

  “There are two keys to unlocking the secrets of American politics and American political history.” So begins The Politicians & the Egalitarians, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s bold new work of history.

First, America is built on an egalitarian tradition. At the nation’s founding, Americans believed that extremes of wealth and want would destroy their revolutionary experiment in republican government. Ever since, that idea has shaped national political conflict and scored major egalitarian victories―from the Civil War and Progressive eras to the New Deal and the Great Society―along the way.

Second, partisanship is a permanent fixture in America, and America is the better for it. Every major egalitarian victory in United States history has resulted neither from abandonment of partisan politics nor from social movement protests but from a convergence of protest and politics, and then sharp struggles led by principled and effective party politicians. There is little to be gained from the dream of a post-partisan world.

With these two insights Sean Wilentz offers a crystal-clear portrait of American history, told through politicians and egalitarians including Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and W. E. B. Du Bois―a portrait that runs counter to current political and historical thinking.

  Most of us have to “talk across the aisle” once or twice a year—when we’re seated next to our conservative out-of-town uncle at Thanksgiving, say. But millions of self- identified liberals live in cities and towns—particularly away from the East and West Coasts—where they are regularly outnumbered and outvoted by conservatives.

Justin Krebs is a political and cultural entrepreneur, strategist and writer. He is the founding director of Living Liberally, a national progressive social organization with over 200 chapters. The organization is primarily composed of Drinking Liberally happy hours, which give liberals around the country the opportunity to get offline and form face-to-face friendships.

Krebs' new book is Blue in a Red State: The Survival Guide to Life in the Real America.

  A rose is a rose is a rose, but is a superdelegate a delegate?

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney talks Democratic politics with WAMC’s Alan Chartock. 

    Cory Booker made headlines in 2002 when, at the age of 32, he became one of the youngest people to run for mayor of Newark. Though he lost that first race, Booker went on to be the city's mayor from 2006-2013, before becoming a U.S. Senator representing New Jersey.

The former Stanford football player joins us this morning to talk about his political career so far, his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, his new book, "United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good," and what he thinks it will take to get both sides of the aisle working together.

  In Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century, Daniel Oppenheimer tells the stories of six major political figures whose journeys away from the left reshaped the contours of American politics in the twentieth century.

By going deep into the minds of six apostates—Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, and Christopher Hitchens—Oppenheimer offers an unusually intimate history of the American left, and the right’s reaction.

  Former Senator Gary Hart’s The Republic of Conscience is a meditation on the growing gap between the founding principles of the United States Constitution and our current political landscape.

  A dancer’s past. A woman’s future. The seductive and lucrative world of strip clubs sets the stage for Naked Influence, a tale about a charismatic exotic dancer who finds herself engulfed in a doomed relationship with a congressman.

The show opened at Capital Repertory Theatre in downtown Albany and runs through February 14th.

The favorite of last year’s NEXT ACT! New Play Summit 3, Naked Influence showcases author Suzanne Bradbeer’s intelligence in examining contemporary stories ripped from the headlines.

Robert Newman plays Dennis, a congressman with a heart of stone. Newman is familiar from a 28-year run as Joshua Lewis on the longest running program in broadcast history, Guiding Light. A two-time Daytime Emmy Award nominee, Newman recently guest starred on Homeland, Criminal Minds, NCIS, and Law and Order: SVU. He has an extensive off-Broadway and regional theatre resume.

  Tom Daschle and Trent Lott are two of the most prominent senators of recent time. Both served in their respective parties' leadership positions from the 1990s into the current century, and they have almost sixty years of service between them. Their congressional tenure saw the Reagan tax cuts, a deadlocked Senate, the Clinton impeachment, 9/11, and the Iraq War. Despite the tumultuous times, and despite their very real ideological differences, they have always maintained a positive working relationship, one almost unthinkable in today's hyper-partisan climate.

In their book, Crisis Point: Why We Must - and How We Can - Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America, Daschle and Lott come together from opposite sides of the aisle to sound an alarm on the current polarization that has made governing all but impossible; never before has the people's faith in government been so dismally low. The senators itemize damaging forces--the permanent campaign, the unprecedented money, the 24/7 news cycle--and offer practical recommendations, pointing the way forward.

  E. J. Dionne's new book, Why the Right Went Wrong, offers a historical view of the right since the 1960s. Its core contention is that American conservatism and the Republican Party took a wrong turn when they adopted Barry Goldwater’s worldview during and after the 1964 campaign.

The radicalism of today’s conservatism is not the product of the Tea Party. The Tea Partiers are the true heirs to Goldwater ideology. The purity movement did more than drive moderates out of the Republican Party—it beat back alternative definitions of conservatism.

The state of the Republican party, controlled by the strictest base, is diminished. It has become white and older in a country that is no longer that. It needs to come back to life for its own health and that of the country’s, and in Why the Right Went Wrong, Dionne explains how.

  Can a football game affect the outcome of an election? What about shark attacks? Or a drought? In a rational world the answer, of course, would be no.

But as bestselling historian Rick Shenkman explains in Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics, our world is anything but rational. Drawing on science, politics, and history, Shenkman explores the hidden forces behind our often illogical choices.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey
Courtesy of the Office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey

  The Paul Ryan era is under way in Washington.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Nita Lowey tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that she has a good relationship with the new Speaker so far.

  The history of the Catskills is pivotal in the history of our country that is described in great detail in Stephen Silverman’s, The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America.

Silverman’s book brings to life the beauty, vastness and turning points of the Catskills history, sharing stimulating stories of the region’s influential entrepreneurs, artists, gangsters, politicians, musicians and outcasts.

Vital to the development of America, the Catskills region was the birthplace of New York’s own Declaration of Independence, a central location for America’s industrial revolution, a rising resort town with hundreds of hotels and an artistic muse for the 19th century Hudson River School of Art and 20th century entertainers like Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.

  In an era of extreme partisanship, when running for office has become a zero-sum game in which candidates play exclusively to their ideological bases, Americans on both sides of the political aisle hunger for the return of a commitment to the common good. Too often, it seems, religion has been used as a wedge to divide us in these battles. But is it also the key to restoring our civic virtue?

For more than a decade, Senator John Danforth, who is also an ordained Episcopal priest, has written extensively on the negative use of religion as a divisive force in American politics. Now he turns to the positive, constructive impact faithful religious believers have and can have on our public life. The Relevance of Religion is the product of that period of reflection.

  The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College is hosting its eighth annual international conference from Thursday, October 15 to Friday, October 16 on Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson campus.

The two-day conference, “Why Privacy Matters,” asks: What do we lose when we lose our privacy? Reading on Kindles, searching Google, and using cell phones leave a data trail of intimate details. Governments and businesses track our comings, goings, and doings. The conference will include many knowledgeable speakers on the subject including (via satellite) NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden. 

Here are some questions to be answered: Why do we willfully participate in the loss of our privacy? How is it that we rarely register its loss? Do we simply value privacy less? It is time to ask why privacy matters? How can a right to privacy and a meaningful private life exist today?

We are joined by Roger Berkowitz and David Brin.

Roger Berkowitz is Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College and Associate Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Human Rights.

David Brin is an American scientist and award-winning author of science fiction. He has served as visiting scholar at NASA in Exobiology.

  William F. Buckley, Jr., and Norman Mailer were the two towering intellectual figures of the 1960s, and they lived remarkably parallel lives. Both became best-selling authors in their twenties; both started hugely influential papers (National Review and the Village Voice); both ran for mayor of New York City; both were noted for their exceptional wit and venom; and both became the figurehead of their respective social movements (Buckley on the right, Mailer on the left). Indeed, Buckley and Mailer argued vociferously and publicly about every major issue of their time: civil rights, feminism, the counterculture, Vietnam, the Cold War.

But behind the scenes, the two were close friends and trusted confidantes. In Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties, historian Kevin M. Schultz delves into their personal archives to tell the rich story of their friendship, their arguments, and the tumultuous decade they did so much to shape.

  Stop the presses: we’re approaching another funding standoff in Washington. 

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut representative Joe Courtney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that holding the government hostage is the wrong way to make political points.

  Corporate attorney, Rich Honen, pays us a visit once a month with some thoughts on headlines from the business world.

This month we speak with him about The Year of the CEO.

Rich Honen is with Phillips Lytle LLP where he is the partner in charge of the Albany office.

  In his new book, Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin argues that to understand our never-ending wars abroad and political polarization at home--we have to understand Henry Kissinger.

Examining Kissinger's own writings, as well as a wealth of newly declassified documents, Grandin reveals how Richard Nixon's top foreign policy advisor, even as he was presiding over defeat in Vietnam and a disastrous, secret, and illegal war in Cambodia, was helping to revive a militarized version of American exceptionalism centered on an imperial presidency.

Going beyond accounts focusing either on Kissinger's crimes or accomplishments, Grandin offers a compelling new interpretation of the diplomat's continuing influence on how the United States views its role in the world. Greg Grandin is an author and professor of history at New York University.

  Barton Swaim, a native South Carolinian, attended the University of South Carolina and the University of Edinburgh. From 2007 to 2010 he worked for Mark Sanford, South Carolina’s governor, as a communications officer and speechwriter.

His book, The Speechwriter , is a funny and candid introduction to the world of politics, where press statements are purposefully nonsensical, grammatical errors are intentional, and better copy means more words.

    In Landslide: LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America, Jonathan Darman tells the story of two giants of American politics, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, and shows how, from 1963 to 1966, these two men—the same age, and driven by the same heroic ambitions—changed American politics forever.

  Gary Hart is an American politician and a former Colorado senator, serving in Congress from 1975 to 1987.

His new book, The Republic of Conscience, is a meditation on the growing gap between the founding principles of the United States Constitution and our current political landscape.

  The Capitol Steps began in 1981 as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them.

Since they began, the Capitol Steps have recorded over 30 albums, including their latest, Mock the Vote. They've been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard twice a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during their Politics Takes a Holiday radio specials.

  It’s a classic story of the American Dream. George Mitchell grew up in a working class family in Maine, experiencing firsthand the demoralizing effects of unemployment when his father was laid off from a lifelong job. But education was always a household priority, and Mitchell embraced every opportunity that came his way, eventually becoming the ranking Democrat in the Senate during the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Mitchell looks back at his adventures in law and politics in his memoir, The Negotiator.

  For over 50 years, Ralph Nader has brought to public attention--and fought on our behalf against--the reckless influence of corporations on government. Political parties have a nasty habit of slipping issues off the table. Ralph Nader has strategies for putting them back on that he'll share with attendees of the "Getting It Done: How to Restore and Repair Our Wounded Democracy" conference at The Rowe Center in Rowe, MA 5/15-5/17.

Nader's new book is Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015. In letters addressed to Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, Ralph Nader provides incisive critiques of more than a decade of American policy decision and indecision.

  When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. Her assignment was only supposed to last three months. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict.

Democrats took it on the chin in the midterm elections, but are hopeful about their 2016 chances.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Paul Tonko tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the Empire State could play a major role in our national politics.

Barney Frank represented the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts for more than three decades and chaired the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011. He is a regular commentator on MSNBC.

He has just written a memoir, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same Sex Marriage. The book is a behind-the-scenes look at politics and larger societal changes and one man's struggle with sexual politics and identity.

    Helping students develop their ability to deliberate political questions is an essential component of democratic education, but introducing political issues into the classroom is pedagogically challenging and raises ethical dilemmas for teachers.

In their book, The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education, Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy argue that teachers will make better professional judgments about these issues if they aim toward creating "political classrooms," which engage students in deliberations about questions that ask, "How should we live together?"

Pages