The What Happened Book Club

image of Hillary Clinton's book 'What Happened' sitting on my dining room table, with my Hillary action figure standing on top of the book, her arms raised over her head

This is the ninth installment of the What Happened Book Club, where we are doing a chapter a week.

That pace will hopefully allow people who need time to procure the book a better chance to catch up, and let us deal with the book in manageable pieces: I figured we will have a lot to talk about, and one thread for the entire book would quickly get overwhelming.

So! Let us continue our discussion with Chapter Nine: Change Makers.

* * *

This was a very fascinating chapter to read, because it really gets to the heart of what I said about a zillion times during the last election (and in its aftermath): The differences among the left were largely those of process, not policy.

That is, we mostly share the same policy goals, but have disagreement on the best way to get there.

I've written so many words on this subject already, most recently here, so I will spare you another endless essay on the subject of effective incremental progressivism. Suffice it to say, this is one of the reasons I was and continue to be a Hillary Clinton supporter.

This passage spoke powerfully to me:
I had been raised to believe in the power of reason, evidence, argument, and in the centrality of fairness and equality. As a campus liberal in the foment of the sixties, I took "consciousness raising" seriously. But talking about fairness alone wouldn't get a ramp built for this girl's wheelchair at the local public school. Raising public awareness would be necessary but not sufficient for changing school policies and hiring and training new staff to give students with disabilities and equal education. Instead of waiting for a revolution, the kind of change this girl needed was more likely to look like the sociologist Max Weber's description of politics: "a strong and slow boring of hard boards." I felt ready to do it.
That is very similar to how I feel about politics — and I say that as someone who is on the awareness-raising side of it. My job is to create the need and the space for politicians to do the right thing, and then advocate for them to do it. Neither of us can achieve progress without the other.

I love that Hillary quoted that Weber line, too. I still remember the first time I read that, in a Sociology 101 class my freshman year at university. I thought: Okay, yes, this makes sense, and it is both warning and directive, and I take both.

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