Looking for a savvy, sassy and strategic agenda to counter the rightwing and take America back from the most extremist Administration of our lifetime? Pick up a copy of Taking Back America–And Taking Down the Radical Right, a new collection of articles which I co-edited with Campaign for America’s Future head Robert Borosage.

Featuring illuminating and inspiring contributions from Bill Moyers, Barbara Ehrenreich, Benjamin Barber, William Greider, Robert Reich, Danny Goldberg, Joel Rogers, Reps. Jesse L. Jackson and Jan Schakowsky and other leading scholars, thinkers and advocates, NationBooks’ Taking Back America offers positive alternatives to the reactionary policies of the Bush Administration.

It’s not hard for progressives (or any sane citizen, for that matter) to see that we’re in the fight of our lives. George Bush’s policies have ravaged our country. Since he took office, America has suffered a staggering decline, moving from prosperity to recession, from peace to war, from record budget surpluses to record deficits. This Administration’s legacy is one of preemptive strikes; de-stabilizing tax cuts; the rollback of protection for workers; consumers and the environment; an assault on the rights of women and minorities; and a crony,capitalist corruption devoid of shame.

Progressives have no choice but to rouse themselves, to build the arguments, movements, and institutions needed to turn this country around. It is time to take back America–and build a country that is safer, healthier, better educated, more secure and committed to shared prosperity and opportunity for all. But we must work in smart and coordinated ways. And while many translate this into electoral terms—and we must defeat Bush in 2004–it is also more than a matter of changing the occupants of the White House. The challenge requires a coherent critique of the conservative ideas that have dominated the past 25 years. It requires bold new vision and vast citizen mobilization to counter the entrenched and growing power of corporate lobbies and restore an America that lives up to its democratic promise. It is a journey not of a year but of a decade or more.

What is hopeful is that on fundamental questions, Bush and the Right are out of tune with the majority of Americans. In area after area, Americans prefer progressive alternatives to the failed policies of the conservative right—investment in health care and education over tax cuts, fair trade over free trade, corporate accountability over deregulation, environmental protection over laissez-faire oversight, defending Social Security and Medicare over privatizing them, public schools over vouchers, raising the minimum wage over eliminating it. Moreover, civilizing causes like civil rights, reproductive choice and environmental protection are now mainstream values.

It is increasingly clear that Americans face challenges that will never be addressed by the rightwing extremists now in power. Taking Back America features thinkers, writers and strategists intent on laying out an agenda that makes sense for most Americans. It offers policies that are commensurate with the size of the challenge. But it is also filled with strategic insights and good ideas about how to build the capacity to reach out to citizens, to mobilize allies, to identify, recruit, train and support the next generation of leaders.

It is time, as Senator Paul Wellstone said in one of his last speeches, not to duck, not to hide, not to bite our tongues or bide our time. It is time to stand up, to speak out. We need to return to a politics of passion and principle that asserts our values, our ideas and our energy and develop the independent capacity to drive our causes into the political debate and electoral arena.

Click here for more information about Taking Back America.

And sign up for the Campaign for America’s Future “Take Back America” conference and Awards Dinner to be held from June 2 to June 4th, in Washington DC. Our book arises largely from last year’s extraordinary conference at which over 2,000 progressives gathered to share ideas and strategy. (Click here to watch online highlights.) This year, John Sweeney, Jesse Jackson, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Julian Bond, Gerald McEntee, Kim Gandy, Sen. Jon Corzine, Arianna Huffington and many others are all scheduled to speak. Click here for info and to register.

And, if you’re going to be in New York City on May 14 and 15, check out “ What We Stand For: Ideas and Values to Take Back America,” a conference organized by the Nation Institute and the New Democracy Project featuring many contributors to the book–as well as Paul Krugman, Joe Trippi, Gary Hart, Kevin Phillips, Eliot Spitzer, David Cole, Lori Wallach, Ellen Chesler, Eli Pariser,and Anne-Marie Slaughter.

I’m also heading to Los Angeles this weekend–along with other Nation folk–to participate in the Los Angeles Times‘ annual Festival of Books. Friday night, I’ll be at Santa Monica’s Track 16 Gallery for what I anticipate will be a spirited conversation about the state of the nation and The Nation–with nationally syndicated columnist and Nation contributing editor Robert Scheer. Seating is limited.