Essential Gifts for the Politico in Your Life

By Bradley Honan & Elisabeth Zeche | December 20, 2023 | Original Article

With the holiday season upon us, finding the perfect gift for the politically inclined on your list can be a challenge. But fear not because 2023 has been a remarkable year for political books, which offer insights into the shifting landscapes of American politics, and are easily order-able from the internet. 

For those looking to impress a politically savvy friend or relative — or simply help decorate the bookshelves behind their Zoom setup — here are several standout books from this year that not only make for great reads, but serve as thoughtful holiday gifts.

Starting with her first political job at the age of 16, Melissa DeRosa has had a stratospheric rise in government and politics ascending to become the person Gov. Andrew Cuomo described as the “woman who runs New York state.” In this memoir, DeRosa has written a critically acclaimed thrilling page-turner that you may well find yourself reading in a single sitting.  

It’s a book that’s hard to put down as you feel you’re in the center of non-stop, high-stakes action. DeRosa’s thoroughly researched book seeks to set the record straight about the political gang up against Cuomo that ousted him from office and, importantly, offers a portrait for Democrats and Republicans for how to use the machinery of government to make it work and deliver for the American people.

Much of DeRosa’s book chronicles her role as the singular point person responsible for tackling New York (and America’s) response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as her critical role in some of the most high-stakes, almost unimaginable negotiations with Jared Kushner over keeping the Trump Administration from sending federal troops into New York state during the outbreak of COVID.

While much younger than most memoir writers, DeRosa is a dedicated public servant, perhaps even someday a candidate for higher office herself, whose experiences and political judgment — as well as the ability to tell an engaging story — exceed those many years senior to her. 

George W. Bush operative and GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini’s new book sets him up to be a political Nostradamus who has highlighted what appears to be a critical 2024 battleground — the working class of all races — white, black, and brown. This book is a timely and thought-provoking exploration of the potential for a multiracial populist coalition in American politics. Ruffini argues with copious supporting data points that such a coalition isn’t only possible, but necessary to address the country’s deepening social and economic divide.

The book is a fascinating journey through American political history, highlighting moments when cross-racial solidarity seemed within reach and exploring why these moments often fell short. Ruffini then turns to the present, offering a blueprint for building a more inclusive, populist movement on the right – and why Democrats should be running scared. 

In an era of intense political polarization, Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis’s book provides a crucial examination of the Democratic Party’s evolution and its current state. An update on their earlier release, Emerging Democratic Majority book, these seasoned political analysts delve into the historical journey of the Democratic Party, exploring how it transformed from the champion of the working class to a party grappling with identity politics and internal class divisions.

The book is more than just a historical account; it’s an exploration of what the future may hold for the Democrats in terms of confronting significant demographic shifts to ideological battles. This book is an excellent choice for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics shaping the modern-day Democratic Party and promises to spark engaging discussions and deep reflections. 

The Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times columnist has written an important portrait of the shattered prospect for achieving the American Dream — tracing the economic fortunes of America from the Great Depression through today. But Leonhardt’s book isn’t all doom and gloom. He instead charts a clear path for how to restore economic fortunes, hopes, and optimism to America — and in doing so rebuild the middle class. 

Bradley Honan and Elisabeth Zeche are partners at the Democratic polling and data analytics firm Honan Strategy Group. Honan is also Co-president of the New York Metro Chapter of the American Association of Political Consultants.