Sunday, August 3, 2008

Homegrown Democrat by Garrison Keillor

I am a liberal and liberalism is the politics of kindness. Liberals stand for tolerance, magnanimity, community spirit, the defense of the weak against the powerful, love of learning, freedom of belief, art and poetry, city life, the very things that make America worth dying for.

The above quote perfectly sums up this book. Keillor, of Prairie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon fame, sets out to explain why he is a Democrat, by interweaving stories from his life and the history of the Democratic party. He writes about his parents and how the WPA helped them pull themselves up after the depression, his going to college on a government grant, and his encounters with average people in Minnesota.

The book amounts to nothing more than the ruminations of an old man, but the thing is this old man is a writer and a thinker. He is someone worth listening to. He has great thoughts about what it means to be a citizen of the United States and insights into the psyche of a Democrat. Keillor even attempts to figure out what goes on in the minds of Republicans, with comic effect. Keillor was raised in a religious home. This upbringing left an indelible mark on him, one that guides his actions and informs who is is to this day. This early imprint can be seen all throughout this book. And of course, Keillor's unmistakable wit is present, making Homegrown Democrat a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Homegrown Democrat is not a diatribe against the Republican party, although Keillor is never reluctant to take them to task. It is an impassioned celebration of old-time democratic (lowercase D) values.

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