Skip to main content

Big mouths can make big changes.

-- Amanda Marcotte, Get Opinionated

Voice. Outrage. Proclaiming the nudity of emperors. Calling out bullshit. Using ridicule and intellect in equal amounts. That's what our writers on the left are here for, right? For focus, for cutting through the spin, for full-throated bellows and blows to hypocrisy and absurdity.

One of our own has a book out now, and it's a pure delight to read.

Get Opinionated: A Progressive's Guide to Finding Your Voice (and Taking a Little Action)
By Amanda Marcotte
Seal Press: Berkeley, CA
Softcover, 256 pages, $15.95
March 2010

Money quote:

I've been a political blogger and writer for over five years now, and the Obama victory made me realize how many of my political opinions are about what I don't believe instead of what I do. Now that we've got power, we'd better start getting opinionated.

**

There was no mastermind, no magic formula, no brilliance at all. What conservatives have had for a long time that liberals haven't is a clarity of purpose. They have strong opinions about what they want the country to look like, and strong ideas about how to get there. Liberals have had a hodgepodge of political correctness, infighting and an unwillingness to even label ourselves liberals. But as soon as we had the clarity of purpose that hating Bush brought us, we were able to pull out some victories.

But we can't lean on Bush hatred anymore. Nor can we scatter to the winds and let a bunch of stubborn right-wing nuts take the country over yet again. In an attempt to push the dialogue forward, I wrote this book to give some shape and definition to major issues that liberals should embrace on their own, no matter what angle they come from.

Author: Blogger at Pandagon, former official blogger for the John Edwards presidential campaign, author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

Basic premise: Speak up, shout out, have fun, find your niche, activate your activism and learn how to shoot down ridiculous right-wing absurdities. The book is divided into handy sections that deal with reproductive rights, environmentalism, the war on science and rationality, etc. The main notion is that you can be informed, be passionate, be involved in politics and have a blast while you're at it. Action is the bottom line, but this is the "fired up" part of getting "ready to go." And Marcotte realizes that united as the left was in opposing Bush, we're having a bit of a struggle maintaining harmony and momentum now that Democrats are in power once again.

Clearly, helping to think through the shape and definition of major issues is one of the most important tasks we can be doing collaboratively with out time right now.

Readability/quality: Easy and breezy to read, laugh out loud funny in many parts, Get Opinionated shows Marcotte coming into her own, confident and sure of her step. As she brings her brand of irreverent, sharp-as-a-tack humor to bear on the outrageous claims from the far right, she gives no quarter. She's really hit her stride in the past couple of years of daily blogging, and her ease with her voice and subject matter shines through all of Get Opinionated. Her focus zeroes in pop culture, feminism, politics and where the hell the country is headed, particularly when being pushed to and fro by the hypocrisy of the religious right. More and more she is taking on some of the outlines of her fellow native Texan Molly Ivins, although she's definitely more ribald, less patient and far more willing to boldly identify as a feminist.

Who should read it: Oh, anyone who wants to have a good time while they get reacquainted with the ways and places to take action. Fans of Ivins and Hightower, readers at Pandagon, fellow feminists and anyone thirsting for stripped-down, bare-bones truth-telling with a good side serving of humor would definitely appreciate Get Opinionated. It would also be a great introduction to today's liberalism for the "I'm political but don't know it yet" crowd.

Bonus Quote:

Just to finish off with a sample: Here's Marcotte describing the utopias envisioned by the Libertarian Dude and the Libertarian Lady:

[Libertarian Dude utopia] They're ensconced in their castle, protected from the impoverished masses by a moat and mostly by a giant arsenal of unregulated assault weapons. Throngs of grateful women live in the castle for protection and pay for said protection with sexual favors and chores. There is no need for schools or any other social infrastructure, because the grateful women have to take care of all the shit work to earn their keep. There's no need for a fire department when you live in a castle made of stone.

**

[Libertarian Lady utopia] Not much different than the guys' version, except they have a seat at the guys' table while the other women wait on them. It's good life of shooting off guns, being rich, and being told by the men around them that they're so much better than those other women, who don't know how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Smarter. Sexier. Better aim. A sterner voice when addressing the help.

Marcotte's brand of lively, acerbic political smarts can serves as a great attraction to younger political neophytes, who can often be turned off by the older generation's preoccupations with older movement politics. She has just enough awareness of previous generation's work -- particularly in feminism -- to get readers up to speed, and she expands the playing field for progressives by making political awareness as entertaining as Jon Stewart -- with purpose.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat May 22, 2010 at 01:50 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks very much for the review (6+ / 0-)

    Have requested that the public library add it to the collection.

    LeBron James is worth way more than any Wall Street (loan shark) banker.

    by J Brunner Fan on Sat May 22, 2010 at 01:52:31 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the insightful review. It is now on (4+ / 0-)

    my shopping list at Amazon.  Can't wait to read it.

  •  Ugh (5+ / 0-)

    Liberals have had a hodgepodge of political correctness

    "Politically correct" has been used so many times by right-wingers who just are angry because they can no longer say n*gger in polite company, that I wish our side would not continue enabling them by bashing other people with it.

    •  Not to mention (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scioto

      that it doesn't apply at all to the sort of left-wingers who have strong, positive beliefs and live them in their jobs, families, and elsewhere (the 'radicals' and 'extremists' who aren't 'pragmatists').

      "Does this matter? It matters to the extent that ideas matter, and in the long run they do." Brian Barry, Culture & Equality

      by Niky Ring on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:31:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But there (0+ / 0-)

      is a grain of truth in it.

      You have some who dont care about the real issues. The important issues. The thingsthat do damage to people. But are rather concerned with "civility" .. with a smooth surface .. they have no concern with the rights of the women being abused in afghanistan.. but use the word "hysterical" and they lose their minds as an example.

      The Republicans want to give your Social Security to Wall Street

      by cdreid on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:56:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My goal, sans RW-libertarian ideology: (3+ / 0-)

    Smarter. Sexier. Better aim.

    Thanks for the review. I will add it to my "list for a better budgetary day".

    "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

    by annieli on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:08:49 PM PDT

  •  So looking forward to reading this! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denny in Seattle, mamamedusa

    It's been a long time since I bought a book retail, but this totally looks worth it.  Order placed; thanks for the review!

    I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. --Kurt Vonnegut

    by SteelerGrrl on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:13:23 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like good advice for the sort of left-wing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, mamamedusa

    people who don't actually have positive beliefs, of which there are plenty.

    The rest of us look to y'all joining us on such issues as guaranteed health care and ending both wars immediately when you've read this book, I guess.

    "Does this matter? It matters to the extent that ideas matter, and in the long run they do." Brian Barry, Culture & Equality

    by Niky Ring on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:28:17 PM PDT

    •  Not as Many As It Seems (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Niky Ring, belzu, blueoasis, DRo

      A lot of us learned that our positive beliefs, which encompass a raft of policies created by Democrats and proven over half a century and more of history, are immediate disqualifiers.

      We can say "the rich are the only ones getting richer." We can't say "--so we must repeal the Reagan tax cuts." That's Kucinichland.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:35:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or "indefinite detention is authoritarian" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        belzu

        You can be a conservative in the UK and say that; heaven forbid you be a liberal in America and do the same.

        "Does this matter? It matters to the extent that ideas matter, and in the long run they do." Brian Barry, Culture & Equality

        by Niky Ring on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:38:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I didn't take it that way at all (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandra m, mamamedusa, DRo

      I am a woman living in the Bible Belt with a very conservative family.  I'm also very introverted and don't take well to conflict.  As a result, I often find myself quietly seething as people around me make comments and express beliefs that are utterly repulsive, based on total fantasies, and/or simply factually deficient.

      If the author's looking to reach people like me, she's succeeding because I actually bought the book today.  I need all the help I can get to find my voice in places other than the blogosphere!

      I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. --Kurt Vonnegut

      by SteelerGrrl on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:37:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But are you really worried about the left wing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SteelerGrrl

        being a "hodgepodge of political correctness"?

        I'm not. My beliefs are coherent, strong, and also apparently rejected by the leadership of the Democratic Party in favor of hippie-punching. "Political correctness" isn't even a current right-wing slur; it's like, what, 20 years old at this point?

        "Does this matter? It matters to the extent that ideas matter, and in the long run they do." Brian Barry, Culture & Equality

        by Niky Ring on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:41:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not really. (0+ / 0-)

          I just liked the phrase.  Because it's how many of the conservatives I have to live and work with every day see progressives.  

          I would just like to do some small bit to help make that less true by speaking up once in a while and presenting a principled, organized rebuttal.  I am 100% positive about progressivism, and I personally understand that the many causes we rally around are about much, much MUCH more than political correctness.

          Peace.

          I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. --Kurt Vonnegut

          by SteelerGrrl on Sat May 22, 2010 at 03:11:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I can relate! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SteelerGrrl

        I need all the help I can get to find my voice in places other than the blogosphere!

        It has become my only comfort zone to express opinions.

        I often find myself quietly seething as people around me make comments and express beliefs that are utterly repulsive, based on total fantasies, and/or simply factually deficient.

        It's easier to just keep quiet, in public!

        Have you started the book? How is it?

        •  No, just ordered today (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DRo

          free shipping so it'll be awhile.  I'll post something after I read it in one of the WAYR threads though!

          I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. --Kurt Vonnegut

          by SteelerGrrl on Sat May 22, 2010 at 03:13:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Oh gosh. (0+ / 0-)

      Some of us capable of caring about several things at the same time.

      I'm on the Death Panel...and I'm killing stupid people.

      by vacuumslayer on Sat May 22, 2010 at 04:14:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well to Be Fair, the Right Also Has Most (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, mamamedusa, OHknighty

    institutional power of society helping them organize. The problem's never been between two groups of humans.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:33:38 PM PDT

  •  Another review (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SteelerGrrl, DRo

    and order page from Powell's Books.

    Sounds like a fun read and a great reason to head to Powell's at lunch. Man, I never get tired of having that option.

  •  Absolutely: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, mamamedusa, SteelerGrrl, DRo

    Speak up, shout out, have fun, find your niche, activate your activism and learn how to shoot down ridiculous right-wing absurdities.

    No question.

    But remember: the right-wing is not the sole source of absurdities.
    Being willing to "shoot down" absurdities coming from centrist Dems or other self-identified "progressives" comes with blowback. If you're prepared to deal with it, it's no big thing. Just make sure you expect it. It WILL happen.

    Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

    by mojada on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:34:43 PM PDT

  •  When I try to do that here (0+ / 0-)

    cutting through the spin, for full-throated bellows and blows to hypocrisy and absurdity.

    when Kossacks are a bit loose with the facts themselves, I either get ignored or mocked for daring to present facts.
     We like to think we're better on the left, but too many here have already made up their mind what they want to believe, and don't want to be challenged by new or correct facts.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:36:54 PM PDT

  •  Dear fellow Kossacks (0+ / 0-)

    Or more specifically "Obama Apologists" (No offense intended.. but if youve been accused of that this is to you) please take this to heart:

    But we can't lean on Bush hatred anymore. Nor can we scatter to the winds and let a bunch of stubborn right-wing nuts take the country over yet again. In an attempt to push the dialogue forward, I wrote this book to give some shape and definition to major issues that liberals should embrace on their own, no matter what angle they come from.

    The Republicans want to give your Social Security to Wall Street

    by cdreid on Sat May 22, 2010 at 02:54:37 PM PDT

  •  No, she's not "as entertaining as Jon Stewart" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SlackwareGrrl

    Come on. Not even close. Amanda's smart and she knows how to write, but there are issues. Viciousness, for example.

    "There is very little difference between the commonplace and the avant-garde." -- Salvador Dali

    by Slothrop on Sat May 22, 2010 at 03:06:20 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like real good stuff. (0+ / 0-)

    Makes me think even more that Kossacks here and the left in general need to have serious workshops on how to overcome the crap between us (whether emotional or ideological) and make a united front against irrationality and reactionaryism on the right.

    Much of the right has, as Marcotte points out, a solid united front against the opposition (or enemy, really).

    We sure futz around a lot, and as Al Franken once said, sorta walk around "smelling each other's butts" rather than really unifying.

    Workshop title at Netroots Nation: MAKING AND KEEPING ALLIES. DOING THE HARD, GRITTY WORK.

  •  Love Amanda! (0+ / 0-)

    She is one tough, opinionated and extraordinarily bright woman. Her writings on feminist issues are pretty much without peer. I've never read a blogger before who cut through bullshit so quickly and cleanly. I religiously read her posts on Pandagon. She is funny. She is brusque. She is "vicious"...if you will. If you don't understand that's precisely her charm, you
    JUST
    DON'T
    GET
    IT.

    I'm on the Death Panel...and I'm killing stupid people.

    by vacuumslayer on Sat May 22, 2010 at 04:12:28 PM PDT

  •  Never cared for liberatarians, but that utopia (0+ / 0-)

    doesn't sound half bad ...

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Sat May 22, 2010 at 04:33:52 PM PDT

  •  Not all feminists are thrilled with Marcotte (0+ / 0-)

    Interesting that you should mention her book, since it was the very thing that sparked off this controversy:

    http://theangryblackwoman.wordpress....

  •  Describes (Ayn) Rand Paul to a "T" (0+ / 0-)

    "Life is short, but long enough to get what's coming to you." --John Alton

    by Palafox on Sat May 22, 2010 at 10:49:57 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site