Gloria Steinem may always have carried women's issues close to heart, but her ascent as a feminist leader, biographer Carolyn G. Heilbrun tells us, didn't begin until she was 35. In The Education of a Woman (New York: Dial, 1995), Steinem's authorized biography, we get an inspiring--if predictably rosy--portrait of a woman whose personal politicization captured the public's imagination.
A century ago, pioneer feminists won the right for all women to vote. Now, registered women voters turn out at the polls in the same numbers as men...a disheartening 39 percent. A refresher on the women's suffrage movement could be just the ticket to inspire more women to vote: "One Woman, One Vote" airs on PBS Dec. 18.
For those of you who want to do more than vote, Thalia Zepatos and Elizabeth Kaufman compiled Women for a Change (New York: Facts on File Inc., 1995), an eminently accessible how-to guide for grassroots activism and politics. Brimming with enthusiasm, the book offers advice for every level of commitment, from running a spaghetti-dinner fundraiser to running for Congress.
Amid waves of grim studies on the suffocating passage between tree-climbing girlhood and adolescent self-loathing comes Hillary Carlip's Girl Power (New York: Warner Books, 1995), a collection of writings by punk rock Riot Grrrls, cowgirls, teen pageant contestants, and young female wrestlers ("The smell of the mats, the roar of the crowd, I love it all. So why does this make me weird?"). Diarylike streams of consciousness alternate with awkward, school-assignment formality, but the voices are frank and perceptive.
"Restoring Public Trust"
Liberalism walked a lonely path in the greed-is-good '80s when Secretary of Labor Robert Reich first published The Resurgent Liberal (And Other Unfashionable Prophecies) (New York: Times Books, 1981). And though liberalism hasn't quite found its way back into vogue in the years since, Reich's essays serve as a cogent reminder to the frustrated of what's worth keeping as we redefine the concept.
OK, so traditional liberalism is not about to "triumph across the globe," says Stephen Holmes, author of Passions and Constraint (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). But having dissected the ugliest tactics of liberalism's opponents in Anatomy of Antiliberalism, published in 1993, he's now reconstructed a history of liberalism (featuring a couple of unlikely subjects in Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin), hoping to show, if nothing else, that the current political botchery can't all be pinned on the left.
Politics and spirituality aren't necessarily a nefarious combination. Jim Wallis' The Soul of Politics (New York: New Press, 1994) offers a model for a new political morality--one that integrates moral behavior with the reality of contemporary social conditions. The founding editor of Sojourners, Wallis writes with the patience and anecdotal explication of a Sunday morning preacher.
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
Not all single women over 40 spend their lives sitting at home eating canned soup and cleaning out the litter box. Or so report family therapists Carol Anderson and Susan Stewart in Flying Solo (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1994). By turns inspiring and nauseating ("I can't ever find one free evening a month," chirps one interviewee), these profiles make quick work of the myth of spinsterhood.
Scenes from the street: Juan Gonzalez's Roll Down Your Window (New York: Verso Press, November 1995) is a hard-boiled, rough-and-tumble look at the lives of the poor and working class. Gonzalez's Jimmy Breslinesque portraits are the product of a lifetime spent living in, and reporting from, the urban mire. Short on politics but long on compassion.
From the "if it works, stick with it" department: American presidents have pandered to racists since the days of George Washington. In Nixon's Piano: Presidents and Racial Politics From Washington to Clinton (New York: Free Press, November 1995), Kenneth O'Reilly charts a discouraging history, ranging from the outlandish (Nixon entertaining a crowd with a musical number celebrating his racist "Southern strategy") to the coldly calculating (George Bush's Willie Horton television commercials). Even FDR, O'Reilly points out, refused to support an anti-lynching bill.
Take race out of any presidential campaign dialogue and you'll have to keep silent on tax issues, welfare policy, and drug enforcement, too. In fact, according to Thomas and Mary Edsall's Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1991), there's no separating race from any of the core domestic issues facing presidential candidates today. The authors trace the ways in which the Republican Party's "Us"-against-"Them" approach to politics has lured traditionally Democratic voters ever since the divisive Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964.
Urban theorist Mike Davis' City of Quartz (New York: Verso Press, 1990) might be the most comprehensive look ever at Los Angeles, and it's certainly a disturbing one. If this country's trends really do start in the West, Davis' vision--of a city rapidly resembling a landscape from Blade Runner--should keep plenty of Iowans awake at night.
Former Nation editor Carey McWilliams collected his impressions of "this highly improbable state" to write California: The Great Exception (reprinted by Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1971). Nearly 50 years since his musings were first published, they still prove timely and insightful. "In a state made up of newcomers, lacking social organization and political traditions," he wrote, "social cohesion can be most quickly achieved by the negative device of rallying opposition to some menace."
Related Web sites, compiled by MoJo Wire staff:
The complete text of Proposition 187.
For more of the official details on the Wilson administration, see the State of California home page.
"Countdown to Indictment"
Related Web sites, compiled by MoJo Wire staff:
For the inside scoop on how GOPAC goes about its business, check out their official home page.
Gingrich's Progress and Freedom Foundation , a collection of former Reagan advisors and other assorted GOPers, has the gall to call itself "non-partisan." Back on planet Earth, we know it as just another conservative think tank.
The conservative cable network created by Heritage Foundation frontman Paul Weyrich, National Empowerment Television, is home to Mike Schwartz, NET talk show host and Gingrich donor.
Related Web sites, compiled by MoJo Wire staff:
Pro Christian Right:
The Heritage Foundation is the Energizer Bunny of the Christian right, still going after 20 years.
The Taxpayers Party isn't messing around; just take a look at its official platform. On AIDS and homosexuality: "Criminal penalties should apply to those whose willful acts of omission or commission place members of the public at toxic risk." On schools: "All education is inherently religious." On abortion and euthanasia: "Any physician or nurse who assists in the extinguishment of life is not worthy to be a member of the healing arts profession." Is it any wonder they want Buchanan?
The Christian Coalition official homepage contains all you need to do your homework on the Christian right: platforms, speeches, invectives, platitudes, etc.
This isn't the official site for James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program, but it might as well be, containing broadcast transcripts, newsletters and other commentary.
Want to know what The 700 Club is talking about, but also want to spare yourself the grief of hearing bad country music and seeing Pat Robertson draw on chalkboards? The Christian Broadcasting Network home page should help.
Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum has been setting the feminist movement back 20 years for almost 30 years now. Find out what she's up to these days.
Anti Christian Right:
Sources courtesy of Mother Jones, comments by MoJo Wire staff:
These watchdog groups can equip you with information on political strategies, local and national elections, and more:
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, 1816 Jefferson Pl., N.W., Washington, DC 20036; (202) 466-3234; e-mail: email@example.com. Not much here right now, but check them out soon for membership info, recommended reading and other resources.
Center for Democratic Renewal, P.O. Box 50469, Atlanta, GA 30302-0469; (404) 221-0025; e-mailCDR@igc.apc.org
Institute for First Amendment Studies, P.O. Box 589, Great Barrington, MA 01230; (413) 528-3800; e-mail: IFAS@crocker.com. While many see the radical religious right as little more than a group of overzealous crackpots, this organization knows the stakes are much higher than that, and their site is a marvelous resource for those who want details. From the presidential campaign to referenda in Anytown, U.S.A., their online Freedom Writer journal pulls no punches. Essential.
Interfaith Alliance, 1511 K St., N.W., Ste. 738, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 639-6370; e-mail: TIAlliance@intr.net. The IA's site is worth a peek if only for its "Religious Right in Their Own Words" page, a collection of quotes by religious right ringleaders. A sample (from Pat Robertson): "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Maybe it was taken out of context.
National Center for Science Education, P.O. Box 9477, Berkeley, CA 94709; (510) 526-1674; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Field Organizing Project, 2320 17th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009; (202) 332-6483; e-mail: email@example.com. A smart, comprehensive site from an organization that's been fighting for gay and lesbian rights for over 20 years; look through their press releases for more information on Jonathan Wilson's failed re-election bid for the Des Moines, Iowa school board (see "Showdown in Des Moines").
People for the American Way, 2000 M St., N.W., Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 467-4999.
Political Research Associates, 678 Massachusetts Ave., Ste. 702, Cambridge, MA 02139-3355; (617) 661-9313.
From our archives: read how ABC/Capital Cities refused to let Hightower broadcast a Mother Jones advertisement.
"Oh, to be Top Gun"
If you're interested in doing some virtual flying, or if you want to buy a simulator of your own (for the low, low price of $60,000), check out this unofficial Fightertown home page.