Why I’m A Democrat (Book Review and Author Interview)
Why I’m A Democrat
Edited by Susan Mulcahy
PoliPoint Press July 2008 $14.95 216 pages
Why are you a Democrat? Susan Mulcahy has assembled fifty-five different, thoughtful answers to this question. Interviews with ordinary people like farmers, union workers and college students balance some of the party’s celebrity faces.
Throughout the process of conducting interviews, Mulcahy says she intended to “ create a snapshot of the party at a really crucial point in its history, but without the usual suspects. Not political operatives, but people who don’t really talk about politics. Isaac Mizrahi, or Frank McCourt tend not to address this part of the political process in the work they do.” The diverse array of viewpoints and perspectives makes for an intriguing read, and makes one of Mulcahy’s larger points about the diverse membership of the Democratic party. She made an effort to seek Democrats from demographic groups not often thought of as Democrats, such as Mormons, or Cuban Americans. Some of the answers come as interviews, some as essays. An amusing few, such as photographer William Wegman and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, offer visual answers.
The way Mulcahy organizes the interview highlights the many different viewpoints thriving within the complex and nuanced Democratic party. Lifelong, unquestioning members speak their piece and share childhood understandings of politics in “The Party of a Lifetime.” Free speech is especially important who those who speak out in “The Party of Liberty and Other Essentials.” Mulcahy even taps some of what she calls “cranky” Democrats, in “The Party of the Reluctant but Registered,” those who are dissatisfied with the Democrats but reluctant to join forces with any other party. Throughout, by focusing on people who work and live outside the sphere of politics, a picture emerges of how central and essential politics can be, to memory, identity and community.
Why are you a Democrat? This thoughtful, considered collection is a must-read before the Presidential election, no matter your party affiliation. It’s a book for sharing, and discussing. Whether you get your news from Fox News, the New York Times, or the Daily Show, this book will fascinate and enlighten.