This political memoir exposes the weaknesses of democratic culture in the United States and suggests ways to strengthen it in the face of rising authoritarianism.
What happens when a democratic theory professor gets involved with the Democratic Party? In this political memoir, Claire Snyder-Hall shares lessons learned from eight years in party politics. She tells the story of organizing a grassroots campaign for state senate in a district dominated by good ole boys, of a political milieu in which a letter to the editor results in a smear campaign and broken friendships, and of battling a party establishment more concerned about shoring up its own power than engaging everyday people or fighting for their needs. Using an intersectional understanding of identity, Snyder-Hall unpacks the ways in which gender, class, and sexuality affect political campaigns, and offers advice for progressives. She also draws on insights from Machiavelli, Rousseau, Marx, and Gramsci to argue that a democratic republic requires a politically engaged populace, a democratic culture, and economic justice, and this can only be achieved when people defend democratic values in the face of rising authoritarianism, stand up to bullies, transform their political consciousness, and create a party willing to fight for the 99%.
Claire Snyder-Hall is an independent scholar who received her PhD in Political Science from Rutgers University and is the author of Gay Marriage and Democracy: Equality for All.
"Snyder-Hall's engaging account of running for a state senate seat in Delaware is a novella about authoritarian good-ole-boy networks, institutionalized misogyny and homophobia, and the continuing strength of toxic masculinity and its imagery in our day-to-day politics. She also offers a window into the meaning of the phrase that all politics is local and, as such, it is a never-ending battle against little princes who consider themselves entitled to rule and who prop up a corrupt and antidemocratic system of governance from below. Finally, she provides us with an opportunity to see the world through a woman's eyes from the ground level. This is a close-up, insider's view of the unfortunate reality that contemporary American politics is more about identity than public policy, social issues, or even solving basic problems in our communities." — Clyde W. Barrow, author of Toward a Critical Theory of States: The Poulantzas-Miliband Debate after Globalization