cover image The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats

The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats

Gary Hart. Times Books, $22 (206pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-8101-5

Former Senator Gary Hart's role as a lifelong Democratic reformer comes to the fore in this thought-provoking manifesto, part housekeeping and part call to action, taking on the Democratic party's current identity crisis. Dismissing Democrats' hunt for a ""an exciting new candidate who will lead the Democratic party out of the wilderness,"" Hart observes that ""this search has become a substitute for thought, for purpose, for conviction ... No politician can save a political party that does not know what it stands for."" For Hart, it's the principles and convictions of leaders past-such as FDR and JFK-that will lead the Democrats forward. In addition to putting to work ""Twentieth-Century Principles in a Twenty-First Century World,"" Hart focuses on thoughtful approaches to U.S. obligations-as opposed to detailed policy proposals-including redefining security, safeguarding liberty and protecting the environment. Hart saves some of his harshest criticism for Democratic leaders who stood silent as the country went to war. Pressing for damage control and repair-rather than ""election by default""-Hart asserts that ""in 2008, the American people will look for a leader who was willing to say, 'I made a mistake. ...and I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me.'"" Though it may prove no more than a pipe dream, Hart's stand may prove just what many confused and foundering Democrats need to read.