With Halloween in the rearview mirror, many of us are now beginning to mentally prep for the winter season. Where I live, at least, the cold front has officially moved in, and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a book and some hot tea.
The onset of November also brings back the memory — dare I say, trauma — of the 2016 election that was about to wrap up in a monumental and shocking way around this time last year. The 2016 election season vastly changed the tenor of politics in America. Many on the right have moved further toward extreme evangelicalism and Ayn Rand-esque neo-conservatism, and those who don’t fall in line are being ousted by their own party.
Things are no better for those of us who tend to lean left. With Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, many on the left have turned to the written word to mobilize their base in hopes of stemming the conservative tide.
That’s why I decided to round-up a few great political books for those seeking inspiration and strength in our current climate.
Bernie Sanders: Guide to Political Revolution
If anybody understands grassroots organizing, it’s Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. An independent and Democratic socialist, Sanders has become a political hero to today’s progressives. In his book, Sanders outlines his vision for making the American Dream accessible to all.
He outlines the importance of rising above traditional Democratic and Republican agendas, and calls for powerful action on environmental issues, economic disparity, health care and social justice reform. It’s an important read for moderate and progressive liberals alike seeking true change in politics.
Al Franken: Giant of the Senate
A hero among moderate liberals, Sen. Al Franken pens a powerful memoir of his life as a political satirist turned senator, and the challenges he’s faced in the transition. Franken reflects upon the unexpected outcome of the 2016 elections and manages to find humor in the chaos.
At times deeply personal and at other times outrageously funny, Franken provides an in-depth look at the 2016 campaign trail and the inner workings of the Capitol. He also gives us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most depressing and most hilarious moments of the 2016 election season.
Tali Sharot: The Influential Mind
Who among us on the left-leaning side, or even the moderate right, hasn’t found ourselves shaking our heads, wondering how so many people can support the more outrageous claims of the alt-right? In her book, neuroscientist Tali Sharot gives readers a research-based look at how we are influenced by events around us and how we can change things for the better.
Sharot particularly examines the popularity of Donald Trump, and how, with as much as a single anecdote, he managed to convince millions to believe his statements despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Through understanding the mind, Sharot asserts, we can bring about change.
Elizabeth Warren: This Fight Is Our Fight
Outspoken feminist and Democratic icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses how the American middle class fell from a dream attainable to many to a slippery slope downward into poverty. She scathingly castigates those on the right who, for the past 30 years, have implemented policies undermining working families. Warren describes the personal life experiences of those whose families are teetering on the brink of collapse due to the fallacy of trickle-down economics and the mythology of policies based on rugged individualism in a society where we all must depend on each other to rebuild prosperity.
Kim Stanley Robinson: New York 2140
For those on the left craving an escape into fiction that is in line with their political ideology, Robinson’s “New York, 2140” transports readers into a dystopian future where global warming has lead waters to rise to the point that New York City resembles Venice. The story is told from the point of view of the inhabitants of a skyscraper that has become an island in a sea of canals. Robinson’s novel is both a heroic look into the capacity of human beings to adapt to nearly any circumstances and a dire warning of what the future could look like if we don’t take action on climate change.
For readers who wish to delve deeper into the history of liberal philosophy, Thought Company has compiled a list of classic reads and other great political books. From Louis Hartz’s The Liberal Tradition in America to Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal, this list outlines additional literary choices for those seeking to expand their knowledge of how the Democratic Party evolved into what it is today. I also found this great list of books for independents and moderate righties and lefties alike. Additionally, I’d always recommend keeping up-to-date with the best political blogs to follow for supplementary reading!
The 2016 election season assured us of one thing: The face of American politics has been forever altered. As the popular maxim goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Fortunately, some of the greatest political minds in the nation continue to utilize their talents to give us guidance on what happened to bring us to where we are today and, more importantly, how we can make changes.
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