Vineyard-born author A.F. Cook (known to many Islanders as the artist Anne Cook) recently published her first book, Democrats in the Red Zone: an Independent Voter’s Take on the Game of Political Perception. The book looks at the Democratic Party’s strategic failures through the lens of a football fan — specifically, a longtime New England Patriots fan.
In Ms. Cook’s view, the models of competition, leadership and teamwork illustrated in the game of football offer useful lessons for Democrats on what it takes to win. She asserts that the key to winning over the voting majority is understanding their cultural perceptions — and the party that controls the football of perception controls the political game. In one chapter, she looks at the Clintons’ Vineyard vacations and the impact of those visits from a perception standpoint on the 1994 midterm election.
Ms. Cook has long been surrounded by politics and the art of communications. Her father, Peter B. Cook of Chilmark and Cambridge, is an Emmy Award-winning former PBS producer who worked on the 1970s debate show The Advocates, with moderator Michael Dukakis.
Ms. Cook now lives in Arlington, Va. After watching the party’s communication game plan come up short in the 2004 presidential election, she came to see Democrats’ strategic problems as a socially insular culture, combined with a failure to understand how the party and its constituencies were perceived by key voting blocs. Her book offering her insights on Democratic strategy — not as a politico, pundit or academic but as an “average” American voter and media consumer.
Ms. Cook hosts a Web site, redzone-politics.com. Democrats in the Red Zone is available at the Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven.