Published Monthly



Book Review: The Political Edge
Reviewed by Jonas Micah


The hype:

In the wake of the astonishing popular mobilization on behalf of an underdog campaign to elect Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez mayor of San Francisco, The Political Edge analyzes emergent political energies, where they came from and where they're going. Rarely have contemporary radicals joined forces with cultural rebels and neighborhood activists in an effort to change almost everything about the governance of a city. Cultural and political trends erupt in San Francisco, a city that thrives on dissent and new ideas. With wit and cogency, this book reveals the new dynamics that will reshape urban politics nationwide.


The verdict:

This month I had the chance to peruse a copy of The Political Edge, a collection of essays written by various authors and edited by Chris Carlsson. This book focuses on the 2003 San Francisco mayoral race that candidate Matt Gonzalez took part in. More importantly, it takes a candid look at the various fringe cultures that came out into the light to support this long-shot, third party runner. Everyone from the Green Party to several different shades of gay culture took up the banner for this man and came out in force to support his election campaign. This book takes an insightful look at them all, from the views of a diverse range of individuals, and ponders what might have been had Gonzalez actually won.

I have a bag of mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I’m drawn to it because of it’s off-beat, fringe-culture style. But, on the other hand, I found myself nearly dozing off from boredom during more than one of the essays. The closest analogy I can come up with is that this book resembles the first four books of the New Testament. You know, the part where each of the apostles tells the story of Jesus from his own personal point of view. The same events told over and over, with only marginal variations in content and style. Well, that’s how most of this book reads. It’s the same old thing, over and over--each author telling their own personal version of what happened before, during and after the Matt Gonzalez campaign.

This formula is mildly entertaining for the first few essays, but after that, you’re going to be bored to tears. Trust me, I know. But if you can manage to wade through the mass repetition, you might actually enjoy the rare gem or two that are residing in this book. I recommend this collection to anyone who has a serious interest in third-party politics and whom is willing to trudge through some truly boring sections. But, for anyone else, especially casual readers, I recommend you walk the other way and not look back.


Jonas Micah is a staff writer for AntiMuse. He's a high-school drop-out, an Army wash-out and a fool who strives to be less foolish with each passing day.

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