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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leaving the Left: Moments in the News That Made Me Ashamed to Be a Liberal by Keith Thompson

Thompson's original essay was much better

Published by Sentinel HC in 2006

For those of you who do not know, Keith Thompson's first draft of Leaving the Left was a column in the San Francisco chronicle (found here).

I thoroughly enjoyed the original essay. I printed it out, read it to my wife, forwarded it to friends. A copy of it has set on my desk for the better part of two years - mostly in the way, but also as a reminder of my own personal journey away from the Democrats (my first 4 votes in any sort of Presidential race were proud votes for Jesse Jackson, Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and Bill Clinton). Really, though, it's not so much that I've moved from them as they have moved from some of their core values to new core values.

Political parties, like people, evolve in their thoughts. Keith Thompson, like many others, discovered that the political party of his youth (he was the youngest delegate to a Democratic national convention in American history in 1972)  had become something different. (Can you imagine Harry Truman working better with John Kerry or George W. Bush?) Thompson describes the values of his youth, how they matched up with Democratic Party policies and positions and then tells how he believes the Democrats have moved away from those policies. His assertion is that he is still a liberal, but not liberal with a capital "L". Rather, he is a traditional political liberal, the type of liberal that Adams, Jefferson, Washington and the rest of the Founding Fathers were. (If you do not know the difference, write your college poli-sci professors a nasty note for neglecting your education - you paid a fortune for it, they should have done a better job! - and then start brushing up on the political philosophies of the Enlightenment.)

Thompson's book is an elaboration on his original essay. I think it would have been better if Thompson had included his original essay as a starting point, but he does quote from it in an unnecessary picture section in the middle of the book.

His 10 chapters cover a variety of topics:
1. Affirmative Action;
2. Eminent Domain;
3. Neo-Feminism;
4. Clarence Thomas;
5. Abortion;
6. Bill Clinton's Perjury;
7. Columbine;
8. the Extreme Left's reaction to 9/11;
9. Displaced Dads (fathers in divorce);
10. Euthanasia.

Some chapters are very strong (Clarence Thomas, 9/11, Eminent Domain and Affirmative Action) but others feel hurried and underdeveloped - almost like the publisher thought the book was too short and asked him to add a couple of more chapters in a hurry (Euthanasia, Displaced Dads). For example, the Euthanasia chapter focuses on Terry Schiavo but does not include a back story explaining the situation.

I give the book 4 stars out of 5.  Mostly good, but there are weak spots, especially towards the end. It leaves a poor impression - especially when the start was so strong.

But, I do heartily recommend reading his original column. If you love it, you'll like this book.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Leaving the Left: Moments in the News That Made Me Ashamed to Be a Liberal by Keith Thompson.

Reviewed on January 17, 2007.

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