A Liberal Tool Kit
Progressive Responses to Conservative Arguments
by David Coates
July 2007, 216pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99866-0
$95, £74, 83€, A131
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eBook Available: 978-0-275-99867-7
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This handbook for the Democratic Left makes accessible to the general public strong liberal arguments on the key issues under debate as the 2008 presidential election approaches.

This book brings together in one place the liberal and conservative arguments that face the Republican and Democratic parties in the run-up to the 2008 election. In each chapter, David Coates lays out the popular conservative case and then presents a point-by-point liberal response. Each chapter challenges right-wing ways of framing the issue and pulls discussion back into the civilized center of American politics. The sources and evidence sustaining both conservative and liberal arguments are listed in endnotes and developed more fully on an associated blog site.

A Liberal Tool Kit helps to redress the conservative bias in the way news and arguments are generally reported. Coates argues that conservative media outlets are currently more powerful and numerous than liberal ones, contending that conservative arguments tend to be presented more clearly than their less simplistic, more nuanced liberal alternatives. In this book, he presents the complexities of the conservative arguments while at the same time clarifying liberal positions in straightforward, everyday language, so leveling the playing field.


"Coates seeks to provide liberal activists with sound policy arguments on eight issues: trickle-down economics, welfare, social security reform, health care, immigration, religion, the war in Iraq, and economic prosperity. A distinctive feature of the book is that each chapter opens with a summary of the conservative arguments the author seeks to refute. These summaries are well documented, and Coates makes an effort to state his opponents' views accurately, although he does tend to showcase the far Right rather than a more moderate conservative position. He then replies to these arguments with a thoroughly researched presentation of a liberal view. As the title suggests, the aim is to help liberals argue successfully, rather than to win over moderates or conservatives. Consequently, Coates is able to avoid a polemical tone and present his evidence objectively. While the primary audience will be liberal activists, the volume would also be useful for courses where an instructor would like an example of liberal views. Given its thorough notes, it would also be a useful reference for those wishing to study any of the issues more deeply. Recommended. General readers, all undergraduates, and practitioners."—Choice, March 1, 2008

"[R]efreshingly frank."—Winston-Salem Journal, November 18, 2007

"David Coates has graced us by distilling a lifetime of hard thinking about politics into this fighter's manual for a revived Liberalism. Happily, he doesn't shrink from that word, nor does he back away from the genuine liberal spirit which, as he argues, acknowledges the need for clarity, for a sense of complexity, for intellectual honesty and for attention to evidence. Conservatives need to worry about this book because Coates takes them seriously. In doing so, he provides liberals with strong and innovative arguments. This thoughtful book is another welcome sign that liberalism is coming back to life."—E. J. Dionne Jr., Syndicated columnist, Professor, Georgetown University
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