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On paper, New York business and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James seem to have nothing in common. They come from different generations, backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Despite their apparent differences, they share one central belief: the Democratic Party is overdue for major disruption. In The Opportunity Agenda, Fisher and James On paper, New York business and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James seem to have nothing in common. They come from different generations, backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Despite their apparent differences, they share one central belief: the Democratic Party is overdue for major disruption. In The Opportunity Agenda, Fisher and James propose a new path forward that focuses on what really matters: appealing to the people. The 2016 presidential election revealed the extent of the deep economic anxieties felt by working- and middle-class Americans across the country an insecurity that reshaped American history with the election of Donald Trump. Democrats failed to make a compelling case to promote their vision for the future. Equipped with a refreshing arsenal of bold ideas to expand the middle class, Fisher and James offer a plan to grow the party's base, win over moderates and independents, and explain in no uncertain terms what Democrats will do for you, the American voter. In this era of increasing political turmoil, old habits, stale messaging, and a get even mentality, any momentum the Democratic Party once had has stalled. It will take innovative solutions to shake up the Democratic establishment and energize voters across the political spectrum. That's where The Opportunity Agenda comes in. Insightful, accessible, and compelling, it outlines tangible strategies the Democratic Party needs for long-term success. This is a must-read for anyone invested in the future of our country and the forgotten middle class.


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On paper, New York business and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James seem to have nothing in common. They come from different generations, backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Despite their apparent differences, they share one central belief: the Democratic Party is overdue for major disruption. In The Opportunity Agenda, Fisher and James On paper, New York business and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James seem to have nothing in common. They come from different generations, backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Despite their apparent differences, they share one central belief: the Democratic Party is overdue for major disruption. In The Opportunity Agenda, Fisher and James propose a new path forward that focuses on what really matters: appealing to the people. The 2016 presidential election revealed the extent of the deep economic anxieties felt by working- and middle-class Americans across the country an insecurity that reshaped American history with the election of Donald Trump. Democrats failed to make a compelling case to promote their vision for the future. Equipped with a refreshing arsenal of bold ideas to expand the middle class, Fisher and James offer a plan to grow the party's base, win over moderates and independents, and explain in no uncertain terms what Democrats will do for you, the American voter. In this era of increasing political turmoil, old habits, stale messaging, and a get even mentality, any momentum the Democratic Party once had has stalled. It will take innovative solutions to shake up the Democratic establishment and energize voters across the political spectrum. That's where The Opportunity Agenda comes in. Insightful, accessible, and compelling, it outlines tangible strategies the Democratic Party needs for long-term success. This is a must-read for anyone invested in the future of our country and the forgotten middle class.

35 review for The Opportunity Agenda: A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class

  1. 4 out of 5

    N.N. Light

    A timely book that is well-written in terms of formatting and prose. The message is aimed specifically towards one audience only. And even in that case, the audience may be even more specific. This isn't really a message for the card-carrying democrat. This is a message for the card-carrying members of the policy association of the DNC. One can only think the two authors have tried a more direct approach to policy change but were rebuffed. The Opportunity Agenda is a last-ditch public attempt to A timely book that is well-written in terms of formatting and prose. The message is aimed specifically towards one audience only. And even in that case, the audience may be even more specific. This isn't really a message for the card-carrying democrat. This is a message for the card-carrying members of the policy association of the DNC. One can only think the two authors have tried a more direct approach to policy change but were rebuffed. The Opportunity Agenda is a last-ditch public attempt to shed light on five potential policy choices for the DNC. I did have specific thoughts related to the content as I read this book. These thoughts are detailed below: First and foremost, they are not wrong. The premise that the Democrat party tends to beat a dead horse every election cycle is true. You need to look no further than the cobwebbed morass of crap that masqueraded as Elizabeth Warren's leadership campaign as proof. Chapter 1 details the need for comprehensive childcare for every American of all political stripes. It is true this issue resonates with blue and red voters. The biggest flaw in the argument here is there's no explanation of how this will be paid for. It is all well and good to say for every one dollar you save, sixteen of these dollars go here and seven of those dollars go there. Where does one get the first dollar to access these savings? Without concrete economic explanations, this is just so much braying in the wind. Chapter 2 points out flaws in the education system. Their points are well made but they bring up at least two counter points. The authors surmise that simply using rote has set back the ability for kids to get forward in the 21st century. The Japanese education system is nearly all rote and they seem to have no problem being ably employed in the 21st century. The second point is that the education provided now doesn't get students ready for the jobs of the 21st century. Why, then, are nearly all the types of clothing we buy and wear made by teenage girls in sweatshops in Bangladesh? Can't a high school grad from Wisconsin make a shirt? Why are smart phones made by kids or political prisoners in China? Can't American high school grads do that just as well? If Mexican laborers can make cars in Juarez, why can't American high school kids make cars? The issue may not be the kids aren't trained to do today's jobs...the issue may be that companies have put the jobs in the third world to maximize profit and take the jobs from capable Americans. Chapter 3 about infrastructure repair is well thought out and makes a cogent appeal to common business sense. The only flaw here is the acronym PPP is missing the huge P that sits in every government office in the USA. The Private/Public/Partnership must deal with Pork Barrelling. It will take a huge paradigm shift to get elected politicians en masse to agree to stop setting up construction deals that pad their chosen nest. I wish them luck with that as it is an affliction that hits both Republicans and Democrats, big and small. The authors suggest making banks more palatable to giving small businesses loans is the answer. I am not certain how anyone can do anything to make a too big to fail bank agree to help a little person. Perhaps a government-run small business loan bank might be the solution. The Opportunity Agenda is well researched and well thought out. It offers a number of real life examples to illustrate the points. Whether the points are doable isn't the concern. The Opportunity Agenda is a good one for every member of the Democratic Party to read and put into use. Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in the hopes I'd review it. My Rating: 5 stars Reviewed by: Mr. N This review first appeared: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/po...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wally Wood

    The Opportunity Agenda has to be one of a library of books proposing ideas that if pursued will, the authors believe, make America if not great much better than it was before the pandemic. Subtitled A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class, the book discusses with statistics and illustrative anecdotes five areas in which Sly James and Winston Fisher think should and can be improved: childcare for pre-school children; high school and college education; infrastructure; the social contract, a The Opportunity Agenda has to be one of a library of books proposing ideas that if pursued will, the authors believe, make America if not great much better than it was before the pandemic. Subtitled A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class, the book discusses with statistics and illustrative anecdotes five areas in which Sly James and Winston Fisher think should and can be improved: childcare for pre-school children; high school and college education; infrastructure; the social contract, and entrepreneurship. Unlike any conservative proposal I've seen for a Trump second term, these are all positive. The only Republican message I've seen supporting a second Trump seems promote a solidly conservative Supreme Court and more right-wing Federal Judges and that if the Democrats win the presidency, the country will turn socialist and become as dysfunctional as Venezuela. Sly James was the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, from 2011 to 2019; Winston Fisher is a partner in Fisher Brothers, a real estate firm based in New York City and is CEO of Area15. They argue that the Democratic party is behind held back by tired, stale proposals and is past due for an overhaul. Unfortunately for the authors who probably began writing before this year, we're in the middle of a pandemic, so proposals that would have been obvious, sensible, and relatively (relatively) easy to implement six months ago now have to take potential Covid-19 infection, social-distancing, a crashing economy, and all the other disruptions into account. This does not vitiate their ideas, but it does make things harder. For example, James and Fisher make a strong case for affordable pre-school childcare. A woman who takes three years off of work to care for a child loses not only that income, she's three years behind in wage growth, lost retirement assets and benefits. Also a case can be made that for many low-income families, their children will flourish more in a professionally-run facility than at home. Of course low-income families—and many middle-class families—cannot afford childcare. And who wants to send their child into a group while infections rage? They argue that high schools and colleges are not graduating students with the skills they need to find jobs in our evolving economy. They could spend more time in school, less time on summer vacation, and need courses that will train them for 21st century jobs. The situation is serious enough that corporations have stepped in. "At the University of Memphis, the FedEx Institute of Technology worked with software giant SAS to develop student expertise in data analytics and business intelligence. The courses are designed to prepare existing and potential employees to pass exams developed and curated by SAS itself, making the university a gateway into an established company." In their chapter on improving the country's roads, bridges, dams, airports, water treatment facilities, James and Fisher ask, "Why are so many Democrats remiss in shining a spotlight on infrastructure? . . . We believe Democratic candidates fear that mentioning the nation's rotting infrastructure will simply remind voters of their frustration with incompetent public bureaucracies." One answer may be public-private initiatives. Thirty years of conservative Republicans have poisoned the well by convincing many citizens that government is not solution, it's the problem. Cut taxes and get government under control. Gut the Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Disease Control, the State Department, and more and more and more so the agencies cannot perform their functions effectively, and the conservatives have proven their point: public bureaucracies don't serve the public. The chapter on the social contract points out that fewer and fewer Americans join an organization after graduation and retire from it forty years later with a healthy pension and a gold watch. With the economy evolving the way it is and with the gig economy growing we need to find a way workers can keep their health insurance and pension as they move from job to job, industry to industry. The alternative will be a population badly-housed, badly-fed, unhealthy elderly. We'll return to the days when grandad or gramma finished her life in a grown child's home. James and Fisher argue that access to capital is what depresses entrepreneurship in this country. I believe it's more complicated (and their anecdotes are undercut by the information that businesspeople were able to find capital eventually). As a volunteer business advisor for a national non-profit I routinely see clients who have a skill and want to turn it into a business. Unfortunately, many of them have no idea of how to create a business plan, how to read a financial statement, how to manage a business. I wouldn't lend them money, and I don't have to consider my depositors. This, however, goes back to the need for junior colleges and universities to teach skills people can use. To win elections, Democrats must convince you that what they propose will do something for you (the authors' italics). James says, "If we're going to be a winning party for more than one election cycle at a time, we need to embrace bold, disruptive ideas that offer equal opportunity through access to capital, education, and support for entrepreneurs." Fisher adds, "Democrats need to think bigger than the current election and shed old habits and get-even mentalities to grow our base and win over voters across the political spectrum. We can do this by offering all Americans the skills, tools, and opportunities they need to participate in the 21st century economy." While I would liked to read the concrete proposals (who is going to pay for—subsidize—childcare? how does portable health care work?) I would hope that there are people in the Biden campaign studying The Opportunity Agenda and crafting legislation right now. The country could do worse.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Best Indie Book Award

    🏆 2020 BIBA® Non-Fiction: Politics Winner!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

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    Micielle

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    Sarah

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    Frederick Rotzien

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    Sam

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    Jen Schlott

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    Kye Cantey

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    Risse

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    Brenda Maki

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    Lauren Peterson

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    Scott L. Frost

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    Kim Ellis

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    Nancy Adams

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    Liz Massele

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    Bettye Short

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    Rashel

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    Lydia Wallace

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    Steff

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    Deborah Gerhart

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    V Dixon

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    D. Eisenbise

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    Elizabeth

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    James

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    Vincent Schaefer

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marnie Ward

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jerrilynn Atherton

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    Bonnie Cutler

  32. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Courtwright

  33. 5 out of 5

    Karyn Palmer

  34. 4 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  35. 5 out of 5

    Zipporah Sandler

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