An American Voter: My Love Affair with Presidential Politics

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9781582342016: An American Voter: My Love Affair with Presidential Politics
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A warm, affecting, and ultimately hopeful tale of what it means to care about politics in today's world.

When Joan Sullivan was sixteen, her sister got married on their sprawling farm in New Jersey. Bill Bradley, the senator and former NBA player, was among the guests. Suddenly, magically, Joan found herself on the basketball court with him. An athlete herself, awed by his dedication to both sports and politics, she slipped off her shoes, bunched up her bridesmaid dress, and tried not to smile too brightly when he took her as a partner.

Nine years later, Joan is in Des Moines, Iowa, working feverishly for Bill Bradley's presidential campaign. Haunted by the death of her father and feeling disconnected from her life in New York, Joan throws herself into this strange new world, intent on getting a political education. In a whirlwind tour of the U.S., Joan campaigns for Bradley, taking to heart his message that idealism and dreams are not dead in America.

But Joan is not immune to the perils of politics. In one embarrassing moment, she resorts to a shoving match with a Gore supporter in the streets of Brooklyn. But through her experiences, Joan discovers some larger truths: that defeat does not necessarily mean failure; that although Bradley will ultimately lose the campaign, she and others can continue to work for change; and that voting is more than participating in politics; it is a personal and powerful way to participate in life.

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About the Author:

Joan Sullivan lives in New York City and currently teaches at the Bronx Public High School for Law, Politics and Justice. She has appeared on the Evening News with Peter Jennings, and was filmed teaching her class about the Electoral College. She spent two years working for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency which investigates police misconduct. She is a 1995 graduate of Yale College, where she majored in American Studies. This is her first book.

From Publishers Weekly:

Sullivan's debut is a surprisingly suspenseful memoir of her months as an advance person for the Iowa caucus in the 2000 presidential primary campaign of Bill Bradley. The suspense is not in the outcome of the Gore-Bradley face-off, but in whether Sullivan's political idealism can survive the compromises, inanities and media cynicism in short, the commercialization of the American political process. Sullivan, a 1995 Yale graduate who now teaches at the Bronx School of Law, Government and Justice, joins the Bradley campaign believing he offers a more honest, issue-oriented approach to public policy. But her past indicates no abiding interest in politics, and her commitment to the campaign represents a belated and poignantly drawn personal search for meaning after her father died of pancreatic cancer in 1994. She describes with wit and insight her initiation into political campaigning, the tedium of finding the perfect location for a photo op, the perceived importance of details such as the shape and size of a podium. The youthful political consultants (who routinely change allegiances) are particularly sharply drawn. Sullivan eloquently criticizes the media for reporting storylines rather than candidate positions. Despite the pressure of the campaign, Bradley generally retains his luster, especially in comparison with Gore, who is depicted as primarily a political animal. Readers will like Sullivan and find encouragement in the fact that while her firsthand look at politics makes her flinch, she concludes that participation in the electoral process is worthwhile.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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