Book Review - Believer by David Axelrod

So I’m going to try something new and post reviews of books that I’ve read around the time I finish them. It’s as much for me to keep them in mind as it is to inform people. My most recent read has been Believer: My Fourty Years In Politics by David Axelrod.

The main impressions I got after reading this book are: (1) wow, that took a long time; (2) I like Barack Obama a lot more now that I understand why he’s done some of the things he’s done; (3) I’ve become a lot more politically minded/active since I started reading the book; (4) partisanship is killing America.

While Axelrod’s view is clearly biased toward undying support for President Obama (and who knows whether EVERYTHING he said in the book is true) Axelrod provides a deeper insight into the world of American politics that I think people really need. Despite the long read, I think I’ve come away understanding the campaign tactics employed by both political parties and the corrupt practices of many polticians. That being said, I also came away understanding that compromise is a fundamental part of governance (something that some politicians don’t seem to get).

One vivid example that I come away with is related to the 2008 financial crisis. President Obama had to make the tough choice to bail out banks and car companies. Not only that, but he (and his staff) had to whip Democratic votes to make sure the bailout passed. Despite him having to grit his teeth through the whole process and not wanting to give the corrupt bank CEOs, he had to do it, because that’s what governing is all about. Making sure you make the best decisions possible. To realize that this was probably the best decision possible, Axelrod points out the options the staff had when they presented them to the President. They were basically something along the lines of: nationalize the banks (as if that would ever fly), bail out the banks, or do nothing and let the economy crumble. Maybe there were other options that Axelrod failed to point out, but it paints a pretty clear picture.

In all, Baliever has made me more politcally minded (for the time being) and more wary of the clear vote baiting employed by many politicians. I would highly recommend this book to gain a better insight into our political system. Even if it is from a biased source, the thought-processes it provokes are important for getting the public more politically active. I’m also writing this late at night, so it may not make sense. Hopefully it does.

Written on April 17, 2015