“Dumbocracy: Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right, and Other American Idiots” is the result of Marty Beckerman spending years of his life infiltrating the darkest, craziest corners of activists’ America (and Israel). The self-described “Jew-boy” attends pro- and anti-abortion rallies, pro- and anti-Zionism events, and other events of the grassroots underbelly.
Beckerman doesn’t find that he identifies with either side in most of the arguments he examines. Rather, he tends to find a more moderate, sensible approach is typically the correct one to take. He cannot agree with the feminists who think that a family is something of the past that oppresses women, nor can he agree with the religious activists who want to impose the rules of their faith on America. The people that Beckerman agress with are not activists on either side, but the Founding Fathers.
Through hilarious satire and shocking truth, Beckerman reveals that those who think that their beliefs take precendence over human rights are typically wrong, and that the spirit our nation was founded upon is something we can look to for guidance. Respect for the Bill of Rights is undoubtedly an underlying message of “Dumbocracy.”
The book was a very enjoyable read. The crass, over-the-top, and blatantly offensive style of Marty Beckerman is the type of ridiculous humor that is perfect for pointed out the ridiculousness of the people featured in the book. Beckerman lacks a fear of both being embarrassed and coming off as rude (he is also a self-described “professional asshole”), and constantly asks questions of the activists he interviews that either perplex them or offend them beyond belief. To the reader, however, they reveal a weakness in the activists’ obviously flawed thinking.
In this celebration of our rights as Americans, there are unfortunately a few flaws. The most major one is that the author sometimes fails to look at an issue, or even just a quote, from more than one perspective. He doesn’t mention that it could be taken out of context, or that there is a caveat that would make it seem more reasonable. Overall, though, he gives both sides of each issue a fair say. Another problem I found was that, as I perused Beckerman’s sources, some of them were not entirely reliable. The Drudge Report and Andrew Sullivan’s blog are not the best places to find information for a book. Once again, though, it was not a problem that greatly diminished the quality of “Dumbocracy.”
In the end, “Dumbocracy” was a great call to action for civil libertarians, and great call for activists to examine themselves. Too often we get caught up in what we are doing and forget why exactly we are doing it. If an advocate for the Libertarian Party starts to believe that his philosophy is right for America whether they want it or not, is that not self-defeating? What’s the point of advocating women’s rights if you want to take away their liberties in order to ensure that your agenda is successful?
You can order “Dumbocracy” here.