14 books to read to get you pumped for the 2016 presidential election

Feb 23, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Image: Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

It would be extraordinary if we had that one person who we all could agree upon, the person who can fix everything. Sadly, the GOP and Dems are so polarized that they probably couldn’t even come together on a pizza topping. Candidates with true leadership abilities change society.

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So, what we need is a voting public who is informed and can make clear, levelheaded decisions. If you want to choose someone who has our best interests at heart and who doesn’t make choices based in fear and hatred, you’ll need to be a well-read American voter. This is a list of books, from several perspectives, because despite which party you identify with, it’s equally as important to understand the rhetoric of the opposing side.

1. Why the Right Went Wrong by E.J. Dionne Jr.

Why the Right Went Wrong by E.J. Dionne Jr.
Image: Simon And Schuster

The main thesis in this book is that somewhere along the way, a very well intentioned Republican Party took a wrong turn and is now the party of older, white men, while the country is not. If the GOP wants to win, it needs to build a bridge between staunch conservatives and the ideological purity that drives most moderate Republicans away. Dionne explains that the rise of the Tea Party was as much a reaction to Bush as it was to Obama and, in the end, the GOP problems lie in how splintered the party has become (as evidenced by those last few debates… sheesh!).

2. Party of the People: A History of the Democratsby Jules Witcover

Party of the People: A History of the Democrats by Jules Witcover
Image: Amazon

This book is sort of an oldie but a goodie and has been on everyone’s “must read” list of the past decade. Wicover is a well-respected journalist who has written for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times but has also written extensively on the vice presidency and American political history. In Party of the People, he lays out how the Democrats have endured in the worst times and have become the progressive, forward thinking party of today known for social change and economic justice. Be warned, he is so compelling a writer, he can persuade even the most right-wing person to vote Democrat.

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3. Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for Americaby Kiron K. Skinner (and others)

Reagan, In His Own Hand: The Writings of Ronald Reagan that Reveal His Revolutionary Vision for America by Kiron K. Skinner (and others)
Image: Amazon

If you find yourself continually asking, “Why does the GOP love Regan so much?” This book will answer that question for you. Look, he wasn’t called, the “Great Communicator” for nothing. He is still the president with the highest approval ratings in history and a deeper thinker than you would expect from an ex-actor. This book uncovers Regan’s writings, which reveal him to be a man wrestling with the problems of his time; a sluggish economy, welfare reform and the Cold War. Ultimately, Skinner (and her co-authors) prove Reagan to be quite a visionary and an intellectual.

4. Between the World and Meby Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Image: Penguin Random House

If you have not yet read this amazing best-selling book… what the heck are you waiting for? I grabbed the audio book (read by Coates), and I can’t stop thinking about it. Coates frames his thesis as a letter to his son illustrating the insidiousness of racial injustice in America, and the foolishness of believing that one person can make a change. He warns his son about believing in the American dream, calling it “The lie, at black people’s expense.” This book will help you understand not just the black experience in our country, but it will put civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement into perspective. I’d like to say that it all ends on a happy note, it doesn’t. Coates is a realist, and reality can be bleak.

Next: More books to read before you vote

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