Seattle Post Intelligencer reviews Anti-American Manifesto

Seattle Post Intelligencer reviews Anti-American Manifesto

May 4, 2011

Before the 2004 election and in what we know now was the midst of the George W. Bush administration, Ted Rall wrote Wake Up, You’re Liberal!: How We Can Take America Back from the Right and challenged liberals to step forward and lead this country to the promise it offers. From its impressive opening “Credo” to the final chapter, called “The Manifesto for a New America,” I was so impressed I made sure I got a personally autographed copy.

While Rall’s book attacked the policies of the right, he didn’t give Democrats a free ride (one chapter was called “Dem Dum Dems”). Still, he provided suggestions and approaches toward changing the direction of the country. Six years later, a president of color who ran on a campaign of “change” is in the White House. What’s Rall thinking now? Well, he’s issued another manifesto — and this one calls for revolution.

Whether as an author or award-winning syndicated editorial cartoonist and syndicated columnist and cartoonist, Rall has never hesitated to say what’s on his mind. And his new book, The Anti-American Manifesto, actually does call for a revolution right here in the good old U S of A. But don’t think Rall has gone off the deep end. Instead, the book seems to reflect how people across the political spectrum have simply given up on the ability of the country’s existing political system and structure to right the ship. Look at the success of the Tea Party. It’s just that Rall takes it a step further. He says it’s too late to reform the country or the government because the existing system is not viable or open to real change. Revolution, he writes, is preferable to collapse.

“The current U.S. government must be prophylactically removed,” he writes. “Our economic and social structures must be radically reinvented. These things can only happen by using force.” Yet The Anti-American Manifesto doesn’t suggest the revolution start on the left. In fact, he invokes the adage “the enemy of your enemy is your friend”, urging people to “reach out to anyone and everyone who is willing to take on the existing system.” That also means, somewhat maddeningly, that Rall isn’t specific about what will follow revolution. Although he still hews to many of the ideas expressed in Wake Up, You’re Liberal!, he believes the first priority is to get rid of the current “zombie system of government.” Only then should we begin to “split ideological hairs” on what will replace it.

In the book, Rall notes he “hated” the title of Wake Up, You’re Liberal. I would quibble with title The Anti-American Manifesto. Rall isn’t anti-American. He’s anti what America has become. Yet calling the manifesto “anti-American” doesn’t get that point across. In fact, it may tend to divide rather than unite the enemies of his enemies.

It’s not surprising Rall has reached his limit. In fact, he says he’s thought revolution was necessary before but was afraid to say so. In fact, in the “Credo” in Wake Up, You’re Liberal he said, “Radical problems require radical solutions.” The last item in that “Credo” is also relevant six years later: “I reserve the right to change my mind.”

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