Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Review: "A Letter to America"

Former senator and current University of Oklahoma president David Boren has written a timely and very much worth-reading short book, A Letter to America (Univ. of OK Press). Boren, a strong centrist, takes a close look at the shabby shape of American politics and political discourse today and offers some meaningful advice which if followed might allow us to begin emerging from the hyper-partisan morass we've become engulfed in.

Boren's policy ideas are largely uncontroversial - he makes the sort of common-sense suggestions that 90% of people could agree on immediately (and do, when asked in polls), but which don't get acted upon because the political process is too gummed up with partisan shenanigans. "Many of the solutions are obvious," he writes, "but each party is afraid to act because of the attacks they know will come from the other side to artfully press the emotional hot buttons of American voters" (p. 45). We all know we've got to come up with real ways to solve the major problems we face: entitlement solvency, energy reform, gigantic deficits, climate change and the negative global perceptions of America. But those tough issues and many more have fallen prey to the never-ending campaign cycle and the shrill-toned blather which currently passes for political debate.

At just 110 pages, Boren's book is a very accessible, very succinct, and very clear exposition of the centrist worldview. I recommend it highly, and hope it will be widely read. His is a voice of reason when more of those are sorely needed.

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