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Books by and about 2012 presidential nominees
Do Not Ask What Good We Do
about Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Ten Letters
about Pres. Barack Obama (2011)
A Life of Trial and Redemption
about V.P. Joe Biden (2010)
No Apology
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2010)
Young Guns
by Rep. Paul Ryan et al (2010)
The Path to Prosperity
by Rep. Paul Ryan (2012)
Promises to Keep
by Vice Pres. Joe Biden (2007)
The Audacity of Hope
by Pres. Barack Obama (2006)
Turnaround
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2004)
Dreams from My Father
by Pres. Barack Obama (1996)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Unite and Conquer, by Kyrsten Sinema


    Click on a participant to pop-up their full list of quotations
    from Unite and Conquer, by Kyrsten Sinema (number of quotes indicated):
  • Barack Obama (2) Democratic President (elected 2008)
  • Bill Richardson (3) New Mexico Former Democratic Governor (2002-2010) and Cabinet Sec'y
  • Brian Schweitzer (1) Montana Previously Democratic Governor
  • Janet Napolitano (2) Cabinet
  • Kyrsten Sinema (14) Democrat U.S. Rep Arizona-9
    OR click on an issue category below for a subset.

OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:

Kyrsten Sinema is the newly-elected Representative from Arizona, but wrote this book in 2009 when she was a State Senator from Phoenix. She used the principles outlined in this book to forge a coalition for her election to the House.

This book is a "process book" -- not quite a policy book -- Sinema's policy ideas are presented only incidentally. The book is intended as a user's manual on how to build coalitions. Sinema is a progressive, and targets her process to progressives, but the process works for politicians of any persuasion.

Sinema outlines how, as a freshly-elected member of the state legislature, she was a "bomb-thrower": she made fiery speeches on what she considered morally right. That tactic gained favor with her hard-core constituents, but was ineffective at actually passing legislation. So she switched tactics to building coalitions, with other legislators who agreed with her on a particular issue but disagreed on her general philosophy. She then became successful at passing legislation; made speeches about "coalition building"; wrote this book about it; and got elected to Congress.

Most famously, Sinema led the coalition, through a group called "Arizona Together," which overturned the same-sex marriage ban in Arizona. The key to success in Sinema's coalition was NOT focusing on the morality of same-sex marriage (a push for equal rights, or a push for gay rights in general) -- that would be the "bomb-thrower's" process. Instead, Arizona Together produced advertisements focusing on the "domestic partnership" aspects of the legislation -- which terminated heterosexual domestic partnership benefits in order to terminate same-sex domestic partnership benefits. In Arizona Together's TV ads, elderly couples were shown losing rights, after they had lived together, unmarried, for decades, because their retirement benefits were better when unmarried. Sinema got numerous other groups to endorse the TV ads and to encourage voting to overturn the ban -- such as groups representing the elderly, and other groups targeted in other TV ads. Sinema's progressive constituents considered this a "sell-out," since it ignored the moral issue of how same-sex marriage should be considered equal to heterosexual marriage. But as Sinema points out numerous times, this was the first successful fight against such a same-sex marriage ban in any state, and a dozen states had fought the same battle and lost. In other words, Sinema's Arizona Together coalition won, using Sinema's coalition-building processes, where many others failed.

This book could become a classic of progressive politics in the same vein as Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals." But it has a couple of major fatal flaws that need to be ironed out before it can become a classic handbook. For example, read our excerpt from p. 23, on "letting go of the bear and picking up the Buddha." (That's the title of Chapter 2, not just an odd metaphor). That odd metaphor, Sinema explains, means staying calm in a political fight rather than acting reactively. Maybe that's on the acceptable side of "new political buzzword" rather than "kooky progressive terminology," because at least all the words are in English -- but Sinema uses that odd metaphor to introduce the even odder metaphor of "enso politics" ("enso" is Japanese for "circle"; but it sure sounds like American for "kooky progressive terminology"). Sinema defines "enso politics" as "symbolizing infinity, the perfect meditative state, and enlightenment" (p. 23). That might play well if one is leading a coalition of kooky progressives in Phoenix, but it just doesn't translate nationally. Sinema might rewrite this book, omitting the "enso politics" parts or at least translating them into American terminology, and have a new progressive classic.

-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, January 2014
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Civil Rights
    Kyrsten Sinema: Focus on legal recognition of domestic partnerships.
Crime
    Kyrsten Sinema: No civilized society should use the death penalty.
Education
    Kyrsten Sinema: Encourage women to study science, math, and engineering.
Environment
    Brian Schweitzer: 2007: Signed three bills encouraging local food production.
Families & Children
    Kyrsten Sinema: Exempt breast-feeding from indecent exposure laws.
Foreign Policy
    Bill Richardson: Nominated for five Nobel Peace Prizes.
    Bill Richardson: 1996: Negotiated release of Red Cross hostages in Sudan.
    Bill Richardson: 1996: Negotiated release of American hostages in Cuba.
    Kyrsten Sinema: 2007: Divest state pension fund from Sudan to fight genocide.
Health Care
    Kyrsten Sinema: "Universal" sounds socialist, so say "affordable healthcare".
Immigration
    Kyrsten Sinema: Don't reclassify undocumented immigrants as criminals.
Principles & Values
    Barack Obama: OpEd: Comfortable with differences; downplays separations.
    Barack Obama: OpEd: Master of values-laden over outcome-laden language.
    Janet Napolitano: Key to politics: enlarge the circle to achieve common goals.
    Janet Napolitano: Change from old political cynicism to new hopeful model.
    Kyrsten Sinema: Past Congresses worked together on bipartisan legislation.
    Kyrsten Sinema: Let go of the bear and pick up the Buddha.
    Kyrsten Sinema: Recipe for coalition: Think big;think sharp;think organized.
    Kyrsten Sinema: Find common ground & throw out politics of division.
    Kyrsten Sinema: Arizona Together: defeated same-sex marriage ban.
    Kyrsten Sinema: Talk about values instead of pushing outcomes.
War & Peace
    Kyrsten Sinema: 2002: Bush's movement to wage war in Iraq was unjustified.


The above quotations are from Unite and Conquer, by Kyrsten Sinema.

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