MixedThe New Republic...now Obama himself is striding back into the American psyche with a book offering more audacity and more hope ... Obama has asked readers to wade through more than 700 pages in the service of that conclusion; the book itself—only the first of two volumes—is a testament to his faith in the perseverance of the American people ... the book is more than a collection of familiar Obamaisms and biographical miscellany—there are tick-tock accounts of the major events in his first term. Liberals and progressives who clutched their heads in frustration wondering what Obama could be thinking at various points between his inauguration and the bin Laden raid in 2011 now have a set of answers from the man himself ... Overall, the story being told at length here is one we’ve already heard in condensed form ... What will it take to correct course? There’s a perfunctory nod above to social solidarity. But Obama, as ever, is fundamentally an evangelist for personal responsibility. This comes out most glaringly, as it did during his presidency, in his comments about race and Black men in particular.
MixedThe New RepublicIt does not fully succeed: The sources of our divide appear more complicated than Klein suggests, and the path beyond polarization will be more fraught than he lets on ... Of all the forces thought to drive political attitudes and action, Klein focuses almost exclusively on the behavioral dynamics theorized by evolutionary psychologists ... Yet the state of American politics appears altogether different from partisan arrangements across the world ... the psychological perspective also leaves one with a muddled view of the American sociopolitical scene ... Oddly for a book by the co-founder of Vox—maybe America’s top publisher of policy journalism—Why We’re Polarized leaves little room for material politics. Of all the identities Klein examines, economic class is mentioned the least ... The way forward lies in convincing Americans not to retreat from national politics but to think even more broadly and abstractly about where this country ought to go. Why We’re Polarized does some of the job, but leaves a daunting truth unsaid: To fight polarization, we’ll have to get much more polarized. The only way out is through.