"Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can be easily lost, but is never fully won. Its essence is eternal struggle," William H. Hasstie states in Frances Moore Lappe's sobering examination of the values of democracy, freedom, community, and fairness as they have played out in the past and the present moment. She also includes responsibility, productivity, community, family. and work as closely allied values which are central to the country's national identity. With the same energy she demonstrated in her previous works such as Diet for a Small Planet and Getting a Grip, Lappe takes a long and hard look the roles of government and citizens in a free society.
Money and class reign in Washington, D.C., where the majority of elected officials come from the wealthiest five percent of the population. Many of these same politicians got half their funds for their reelection campaigns from special interest groups. No wonder the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen each year! Lappe does a cogent job evaluating the course of freedom in the stock market and in the quest for civil liberties. The author quotes Lester Thurow who has written:
"Great wealth is accumulated to acquire economic power. Wealth makes you a mover and shaker . . . It allows you to influence the political process . . . and remold society in accordance with your views."
With great elan, Lappe pushes on to the last two chapters on freedom and democracy (the workplace, trade unions, individuality) and on freedom, human nature, and hope (the common good, moral values, community interest). Along the way, the author laments America's poverty (children have become the poorest group in the population) and the $10 trillion spent on arms since World War II. She agrees with the idea that depriving a person of a job is the equivalent of murdering his/her spirit.
Rediscovering America's Values is the kind of book that deepens and enriches our understanding and appreciation of freedom and the importance of responsible citizenship.