Book Review: "Politics: Another Perspective"

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Dr. Wilmer Leon. Photo-Facebook

The best and sometimes the only way to help make sense of a world that is seemingly turned upside down is to return to the basics. Understanding contemporary political events must be contextualized by looking at the roots of our representative democratic experiment.
Oftentimes this is only done through the classroom. However, Dr. Wilmer J. Leon has written a book that not only restores context to our yearning for a free society but is easily digestible and understandable to those who are either too frustrated or simply too busy to try to get a handle on our changing political landscape.
In "Politics: Another Perspective", Dr. Leon has compiled over a decade of writings, small samples taken from opinion-editorials, and connected them around major themes such as race, war, ethics and the changing political landscape in an attempt to help us focus upon the course we have taken and are taking. By realizing how far we have strayed from our original purpose we can hopefully design a correction that is true to the intent of our original foundation.
Current proclamations from the White House seeking to “deconstruct the administrative state” are merely rantings by a corporatist, in this case Steve Bannon, that deal more with capitalism, an economic concept, than about the contribution of government to the well being of the citizenry. Although Dr. Leon continues to be an optimist that the current system can and will handle the wayward musings of the current administration and he also has faith in the current generation of students to help spur the needed midcourse corrections.
One of the most serious issues indicative of the need for a reassessment, according to Dr. Leon, is the rise of the surveillance state. This is reflected in actions of the past several administrations, including the sacrificing of civil liberties to increased law enforcement activities, what he calls the development of the police state. These changes have largely occurred since 9/11 and transcend partisanship. Trump’s desire to massively increase military spending at the expense of domestic priorities is a direct refutation of the traditional conservatism of the Republican party as enunciated by President Eisenhower when he warned of the unchecked growth of the military industrial complex over a half century ago.
Dr. Leon argues that the primary influences upon public policy today are neoliberal, militaristic, and racist. Neo-liberal being the privatization of public assets and using less government through deregulation and more private entities to solve public problems. He argues that we need to return to primary influences int the past such as Johnson’s Great Society programs and War on Poverty, FDR’s New Deal, and Kennedy’s New Frontier, while once again heeding the concerns of Eisenhower’s admonitions on an expanding militarization.
As an African-American his most pronounced and passionate treatises upon race is evident throughout the book. Dr. Leon educates the reader by harkening back to the petition served to the United Nations in 1951 by William Patterson and Ossie Davis charging the U.S. with genocide against its black nationals. He argues that the current spate of extra-judicial killings of mainly unarmed African Americans is a continuation of this history that’s deeply rooted in the attempt to maintain the social order and culture of white supremacy. We simply are incapable of moving towards practical solutions to the race problem unless we understand the historical context in which it exists in this country.

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