We had a nice big crowd at last night's Reading Through It book club. People seemed eager to discuss Naomi Klein's No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, though the response was relatively mixed. Many readers thought Klein did an admirable job of turning around a cogent book-length analysis of the fledgling Trump administration in a matter of months. At least one book club attendee, though, was thoroughly unhappy with what he perceived to be the shoddiness of Klein's work.
In fact, the book club's discussion of No Is Not Enough seemed to come from two diametrically opposed poles. Some folks thought that Democrats needed to encourage a slate of big, bold policies like free college and universal health care in order to win votes. Others thought that Democrats would have to be much more pragmatic to win. Some were uneasy with Klein's full-throated support of Bernie Sanders. Others argued that Sanders was the only template for future Democratic candidates.
Still others argued that Democratic embrace of nuance is the big problem — Republicans tell simple stories and offer simple solutions to the problems presented in those stories. Others claimed that picking apart Klein's book was getting us nowhere, and that focusing on solutions was the only way to go. Basically, nobody had the answers. But at least people could agree that they didn't have the answers.
My favorite insight from last night's book club was the idea that Democrats excel at creating movements, but they are not good at creating campaigns. The Occupy movement, for instance, successfully introduced income inequality into the popular conversation, but it failed to create a lasting impact in the Democratic party.
So the question remains: can Democrats take the energy of the anti-Trump movement and turn it into a campaign with lasting effects? That's the closing question of No Is Not Enough, and the answer is still not readily apparent.
The next Reading Through It Book Club meets at Third Place Books Seward Park on Wednesday, October 4th at 7 pm. Our next book, Noam Chomsky's Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power, is 20 percent off at Third Place between now and then.