A powerful defense of democracy coupled with a thoughtful survey of the struggle for civil rights.

OUR UNFINISHED MARCH

THE VIOLENT PAST AND IMPERILED FUTURE OF THE VOTE—A HISTORY, A CRISIS, A PLAN

The former attorney general lays out the extraordinary challenges minority voters face with Republican efforts at voter suppression.

As Holder notes, we are in the midst of “a crisis unlike any we’ve faced since the signing of the Voting Rights Act [of 1965]: American democracy is on the brink of collapse.” Blame it on an intransigent GOP that has set up roadblocks to voting and installed gerrymandered safe districts across the country. Blame it on Barack Obama, too—or, better, attribute the GOP’s concerted efforts on the party’s fear of a Black president and determination never to let another Black candidate gain that office. At the same time, many GOP operatives are working not just to suppress minority votes, but also to ensure that the next coup succeeds, “rigging our democracy in their favor.” Like many critics, Holder, whose title derives from the civil rights march in Alabama that resulted in the Voting Rights Act, considers the Electoral College an enemy of democracy. He also finds fault in the superannuated, super-White, superwealthy Senate and in the “minoritarian rulings” of the Supreme Court, made possible in some measure because of the Republicans’ blocking of Merrick Garland’s appointment to the bench and subsequent installation of Amy Coney Barrett, “the kind of hypocrisy that makes the American people hate politics.” Holder writes critically, but he also offers a positive program for change that insists that only by popular actions, such as voter drives and demands for electoral fairness on the part of elected officials, will that change come. It can be done, he adds; part of the work is over the long haul, exemplified by the decades it took women to earn the right to vote, to say nothing of Black and Native American constituencies. Another part is the kind of direct action that recently forced the Texas legislature to withdraw the most retrograde provisions of a packet of voter-suppression measures.

A powerful defense of democracy coupled with a thoughtful survey of the struggle for civil rights.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-44574-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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