The book entitled, “How to Overthrow the Government”, is written by Arianna Huffington, and is, for the most part, one giant political editorial about the evils of having a strict two-party system, and the problems that arise when special interest group money is funneled into political campaigns.
Beginning from the very first page, paragraph and sentence, Huffington starts in with her theme that pretty much continues throughout the entirety of the book, “We live in a democracy universally acknowledged to be the greatest governing system in the world. But a democracy is only as strong as it is responsive to all of its citizens.” This “theme of government accountability rings through the remainder of the book. It seems right from the get go as if Ms. Huffington, once a diehard Republican, has seen some things in the political process that she has been less than thrilled with. As this chapter proceeds we see these things explained– lack of representation of all people in the voting process, callousness toward the sick and dying in our country (p. 15), the ignoring of the poor and homeless in this our “great” land. This chapter did a great job of laying the proverbial groundwork for the themes that would run through much of the book.
In the next few chapters Ms. Huffington explains the growing wave of unrest in our political system. This is the first politically charged book that I have really sat down and sunk my teeth into, but I cannot believe that, with some of the allegations that she makes in this book, she has the courage ton name names.
For instance, her apparent hatred of everything “Dole”. In chapter three, “Voting for Dollars”, she makes reference to Dole’s testifying before the Senate in 1986 on the ethanol subsidy Loophole and how it should immediately be ended (p. 58) only to then change her mind after Andreas contributed “ to the Dole’s PAC’s, think tanks and foundations.” Or, in the chapter named “The Public Opinion Racket where Ms. Hufffington brings up the topic of the Dole campaign’s ignorance in giving to much clout to the pole numbers in the 96 election (p.74). Yes, it appears that Huffington might have been able to pick a better candidate for the Republicans party to run against Clinton in the 96 elections, and yet—she didn’t. I guess she was to busy running her mouth in this book to be able to see that it takes more than talking about numbers to change things.
One person that Huffingotn repeatedly praises in this book that, in my humble opinion she is right on the money with is Sen. John McCain. She repeatedly praises McCain in the book for his courage to stand against everything popular in his party. In using the ethanol subsidy example listed above, McCain was the ONLY 2000 presidential campaigner to come out against it. In our political world, that could have been a suicide move but, as Huffington repeatedly points out, McCain is not afraid to rock the boat by making decisions based on what is right, rather than on what the latest poll might be saying.
As the book rolls on there is an entire chapter devoted to the 2000 presidential election humorously named, “Demolition Derby 2000”. This chapter delves into the deceit and usury that the candidates for the then upcoming election had already started in with. My personal favorite comes near the beginning of the chapter on page 93 where she talks about a “positive” ad that Bill Bradley ran for the election where he not only has a puffed up version of his life story but then has a woman come on and claim that Sen. Bill Bradley saved her daughters life. Not only did Bill Bradley not “literally save her daughters life, as the woman states, it turns out all that he did was help pass legislation to keep women in the hospital for 48 hours after labor—and here is where tit really gets deceptive—the baby was born two years before the legislation was even written. This kind of trickery and deceit is what Huffington , coupled with petty bickering and child like name calling and accusations is why Hufingotn deemed the 2000 election less of a battle and more of a demolition derby (p. 95).
Finally, we get to my favorite chapter of the book, “Two Parties as One”. I like term Republicrat, it definitely sums up the chapter where Huffingotn delves into the sad fact that Democrats and Republicans are just about the same part except that Democrats are pro-choice and Republicans for the most part are pro-life. I also think it is refreshing to see Huffington, who obviously hates Pat Buchanan, still give credit where credit is due by at least admitting that, though a “divisive demagogue” Pat Buchanan at least has different ideas and that him leaving the Republican party, while good news for the Republicans and Democrats is “bad news for everyone who believes that our present political system needs to be shaken up.”(p. 128) To be fair to Mr. Buchanan, this is the only time Huffington does anything but completely dog him and his politics—another point Huffingotn and I agree on.
The chapter entitled “A Case Study In Corruption” is not only the most interesting chapter in the book; it is also the chapter from which I gleaned the most “new” knowledge. In this chapter Huffingot examines the prescription drug market and the frightening numbers that are associated with the amount of people that have been prescribed these sometime addictive drugs. Probably the most alarming statistic that Huffington shares in this chapter is the correlation that prescription drugs have had with school shooters. One example that she lists is the Columbine tragedy link to the mood-altering drug Luvox. While the media was quick to blame Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris’s connection with the video game doom and their music tastes for what happened on that fateful day they didn’t delve further into the mystery and find out that Harris had traces of Luvox in his system. The most frightening quote Huffington cites in this book is the quote from the coroner when trying to explain away the presence of this drug, “The presence of Luvox does not change the cause and manner of death,” to which Huffington quips, “of coarse not—he died of a self inflicted gunshot wound, but did the presence of Luvox change the cause and manner of his life.”(p. 152) Later on in the chapter Huffington cites a Doctor who studied the correlation with antidepressants and murder and in one case almost the exact Columbine situation had happened. It is frightening what the funneling of money from the prescription drug industry into our political system can cause citizens and politicians alike to overlook.
Well, being a Journalism major myself, the next chapter that I found particularly interesting as the one entitled, “Waking Up the Media Watchdogs”. This chapter was a call to arms. It started with the phrase, “It is no accident that freedom of the press was guaranteed in Amendment number one.” (p. 237) And hammers home the point that the media is not doing their job throughout its entirety. While Huffington does cite several journalistic marvels of the twentieth century (p.238-Ida Tarbell’s Standard Oil expose, Charles Moore’s photos of the civil rights movement, Seymour Hersh’s story about Mai Lai, and of coarse, Woodward and Bernstein’s uncovering of the truth in the Watergate scandal) she is quick to ring out the point that the media is more into “smutracking than “muckracking” and that they completely ignored the Archer Daniels Midland scandal. What Huffington fails to mention—[probably because she was too busy complaining—was that the media, until recently has struggled to overcome some of the idiots that have sneaked their way into our midst’s, Heraldo Rivera being enemy number 1. Yes, the media loves to cover a good sex scandal—but why? Because the people love a good sex scandal. More people in America would turn their televisions off that would turn them up if we started in on a story about the nations economic downturn. So, who is to blame for the medias wayward movement to smutracking? Not the media! Place the blame on Gannet and other “entertainment driven conglomerates as well as the people. It is also phenomenal to me how Huffingoton can separate private indiscretions with public ones. (p. 242-244) Sure, Mr. Clintons affairs may have had nothing to do with his presidency, but, at the same time, if a character of a man is that small that a promise made to his wife before God means that little, how is the public to know that he won’t take his oath to the American people with the same laxness? Here, is where my least favorite part of the book hits (p.243-244). If you are really trying to drive home a point, don’t quote a bunch of liberal left wing comedians as your sources. Seriously–Roseanne? Come on!
Finally, the last point I wanted to make about this book comes in the second to last chapter entitled, “New Voters Rights”. I love the fact that Huffington finds at home polling calls an invasion upon our privacy. I love the quote she uses on page 264, “ Today, Civil Disobedience can even take place from your favorite easy chair in the comfort of your living Room. All you have to do is hang up on pollsters.” This reiterated her point from earlier in the book about haw it is unconscionable that the no call list doesn’t include these annoying invaders of dinnertime. Seriously, I would rather someone call me to interrupt my dinner to buy aluminum siding that to get a call from the Democratic Party. Talk about an appetite killer. The rules fro the no call list should apply universally.
Overall, this book was great. It dinged the Democrats as much as the Republicans and it used quotes from everyone favorite political figure of the moment, Jesse “the body” Ventura. Huffing ton has definitely been around the political block a few times an, while I don’t agree with every point she made in this book, I definitely respect her for having the courage to stand up in a world of complacent and state facts all while bucking both major parties. I might even vote for her if she ran for office—maybe I would help her to regain her trust in the media.
The Underground Mayhem Society