The Conscience of a Liberal

Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda

Publisher: Random House
“Never separate the lives you live from the words you speak,” Paul Wellstone told his students at Carleton College, where he was professor of political science.

Wellstone has lived up to his words as the most liberal man in the United States Senate, where for the past decade he has been the voice for improved health care, education, reform, and support for children. In this folksy and populist memoir, Wellstone explains why the politics of conviction are essential to democracy.

Through humor and heartfelt stories, Paul Wellstone takes readers on an unforgettable journey (in a school bus, which he used to campaign for door-to-door) from the fields and labor halls of Minnesota to the U.S. Senate, where he is frequently Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott’s most vocal nemesis. Along the way, he argues passionately for progressive activism, proves why all politics is personal, and explains why those with the deepest commitment to their beliefs win.



I met Sheila Ison when we were both sixteen, on the beach at Ocean City, Maryland — a big high-school hangout place — right after the school year ended.

She is the daughter of Appalachian Southern Baptists. Her parents were from Harlan and Letcher...
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"The Conscience of a Liberal is an absolutely fascinating and compelling work, rich in humor and with unexpected revelations of the backstage machinations that take place within the corridors of power, by a deeply moral man whose private decency and public courage render him unique in civic life. A hero to the young, a reproach to the cynical, a living symbol of clean politics and unadulterated liberal conviction, Wellstone is also a superb gut-fighter and — unlike too many jaded liberals — he fights to win. It is all here in this vitally exciting story of a man whose anger at injustice never wavers and whose innocence remains untarnished by the exercise of power."
— Jonathan Kozol, author of Ordinary Resurrections

"Vivid, readable, and grittily honest about how the influence of the money power undermines the liberal agenda. Wellstone's populist commitments shine through. So does his skill and his guts in this account of how one Senator can make a difference. "
— Frances Fox-Priven, author of Why Americans Still Don't Vote