Helllooooo everyone. It’s been awhile; I took a long break to knock on 1,500 doors for Beto, so didn’t get to read for awhile, and well…reading political books to take a break from politics didn’t seem particularly relaxing lol.
But, election’s been over for a month, and I got to finish the book I started with Rachel, Everything Trump Touches Dies!
I bought this book based on the title. It’s hilarious. It wasn’t until I read the reviews that I even realized it was written by a Never-Trump GOP strategist, though that would have been readily apparent as soon as I was 5 pages into the book.
Side note – I’m not quite sure who the target audience was for this book. He had several chapters that were preaching to conservatives, but in all honesty, what Republican is going to pick up a book titled “Everything Trump Touches Dies?” If he was targeting liberals, the title works perfectly, but then those chapters addressed to conservatives were wholly unnecessary.
I know *I* am a former Republican turned Democrat, but in my experience, there just aren’t that many of us, certainly not enough to write a book targeted just at us.
That being said, if people like me are the target audience, MAN DID THIS HIT HOME. Like it or not, one of the central tenets of Republicanism is the ability to look down on others, to condescendingly think and say “y’all are stupid”.
My old Republican ID relished this book. Sometimes I’m just not able to be as nice as Democrats are supposed to be, as nice as Beto is lol. Rick Wilson has a way with snark and condescending remarks, and THAT was the most entertaining part of this book for me.
Rick Wilson touched on a few major themes in his book. The rest of this review is mostly direct quotes that I’m going to try to work in while fighting on the internet from now on. Enjoy! 😀
Hi y’all! Rachel here — I’m finally free from a long fall semester and ready to review books again! I’m pretty sure this book is really just a good ol’ fashioned confirmation-bias-style read, but boy was I there for it. I’m used to reading Trump-critical op-eds and books by die-hard Dems, so it was nice to get something from a Republican perspective, even if realistically it’s not necessarily the normal Republican perspective, and even if I know the author was kind of pandering to what a lot of us want to hear.
So, real quick before we get into the juicy stuff. Wilson made it pretty clear he wouldn’t have been opposed to any of the other 2016 Republican candidates so it’s not that he’s completely turned against what he thought the Republican party was before Trump (although I think we could get into a lot of arguments over how the modern Republican party post-1964 has really birthed Trump and the Trump Republican party, but maybe that should be saved for another time lol.)
…I would have taken any Republican in the field over Trump. Even Ted Cruz, and that says a lot.
And he also makes it pretty clear he’s not been influenced by any left-wing conspiracy saying:
Before you ask, I didn’t do it because George Soros offered me a stack of gold bars and membership in the Illuminati.
Although if you ask me, that would’ve been a pretty darn good reason for writing a book 🙂
Calling Stupid People Stupid
For instance, here is my favorite excerpt from the opening chapter:
I oppose Trump from the right, not the left, and as a constitutionalist, not as a globalist Soros neocon shill out to impose political correctness, sharia law, and full communism. Yes, I know that accusation is a roaring non sequitur, but welcome to rhetoric in the era of Trump.
Their arguments are so consistently dumb, contradictory, and nonsensical that I have to believe there’s a secret Word Finder App for Conservatives Who Love Donald but Aren’t Smart and Want to Seem Smart to Other People Who Aren’t Smart.
God, it feels good to find such colorful ways to call stupid people stupid. And here are some other fun ways to address the Trump Base that will definitely find their use in the future:
“The Trumpian heroic narrative is simple; powerful alpha male warrior descends golden escalator. Forgotten Americans rise, don red helmets. Evil sorceress Hillary is defeated in single combat. Great feasting and rejoicing by the unwashed masses follows. Swamp is drained and all live MAGA ever after. The truth is, as you might imagine, more prosaic, more horrible, and more human.”
“Over and over, Republicans have failed a basic political common sense test on Trump. The excuses they make for him are so out of proportion to the reaction he deserves. In the fact of incompetence, they display indifference. In the face of corruption, they engage in epic whataboutism. In the face of instability, they blame inexperience.”
AMERICAN EVANGELICALS SOLD THEMSELVES TO Trump for 40 pieces of silver. A degenerate, unrepentant man who represents everything evangelicals have railed against for generations bought their loyalty for nearly nothing. It remains one of the most remarkable aspects of the campaign of 2016 and the presidency of Donald Trump.
If being a Republican means buying into stories so obviously, barkingly insane that they sound like Roger Stone’s conspiracy rantings after a three-day meth bender, then we don’t have a political party; we have an inpatient mental health facility.
To remind you once again, a meaningful fraction of Republicans believed that Hillary Clinton was running a global child sex and cannibalism ring from the basement of a Washington, DC, pizza restaurant.
It speaks to the fact that Trump’s notorious base is impervious to reason and immune to irony and is still a deep mystery to many who aren’t Trump supporters. They are willful, petulant, and full of pointless defiance. They’ve become defined by an obsession with Trump as the sole remedy for the offenses imposed on them by a rotating cast of villains and evildoers.
In the process, they’ve become easy marks for every flavor of conspiratorial lunacy and gimcrack appeals to their worst instincts. I know I’m not supposed to mock Trump’s base. It’s elitist, and cruel, and . . . oh, who am I kidding? Honestly, at this point, it’s almost a moral imperative to slap the stupid out of them.
So I’ll dispense with the brief, obligatory nod to their hard workin’, God-fearin’, ’merican salt-of-the-earth values and return swiftly to being an elitist asshole. Because, by God, they’ve earned it.
Okay, so reading some of these descriptions you begin to feel a bit cringe-y, and probably like you, I was alternating between “Yeah get ’em!!” and “oh dear that seems a little harsh?” I’ll leave you to your judgement, but you gotta admit, it’s kinda fun.
On the Republican Party’s Reality Check
Wilson jumps right in to why he wrote this book, and I think he makes his case pretty clearly, if a bit explicitly, so keep in mind that the following words, and less..um…delicate phrasing are his words, not mine.
Trump and Trumpism need a critique from the right that isn’t just a long swoon and reach for the smelling salts. I’ve forgotten more about conservative policy and philosophy than Trump will ever know and that the New Establishment has abandoned. Sure, I want to save the Republic from Trump and Trumpism, but I don’t mind telling members of the party and movement to fuck themselves on the way there. I’ll admit I am also driven to write this book by a stirring bit of guilt. I’ve spent a career electing Republicans, defending the conservative movement and philosophy, and fixing the messes made by all…
Okay so this next quote is long but he puts it better than I ever could. Edmund will repeat this later on but this is a passage that needs to be read multiple times.
If any GOP member needs a short quick slap-to-the-face eye-opening wake up call, this is it.
Everything we Never Trump folks warned you of, including massive, decades-long downstream election losses, is coming. Alienating African Americans and Hispanics beyond redemption? Check. Raising a generation of young voters fleeing the GOP in droves? Check. Age-old beefs, juvenile complaints, and ego bruises taking center stage while the world burns? Check. Playing public footsie with white supremacists and neo-Nazis? Check. Blistering pig-ignorance about the economy and the world? Check. Pushing a tax bill that jacks economic inequality into the stratosphere? Check. Shredding the last iota of the GOP’s credibility as a party that cares about debt, deficits, and fiscal probity? Check.
Could [the Republicans] have turned their considerable resources and energies to defeating Trump? Absolutely. Their clients are the lifeblood of major donor money and command many billions. They could have darkened the sky with the ashes of the Trump campaign in the early primary if they’d chosen to do so. Instead they advised their clients in corporate America to hold their fire. They sat quietly and watched the world burn.
Speaking of those deplorables, here is what Rick Wilson thought of their thoughts on Obama:
They mocked Obama’s promises of millions of new jobs in the clean energy sector but adored Trump’s gauzy, anachronistic promises to bring back millions of jobs in dead industries like coal, buggy whips, and witch-finding.
They hated how Obama rode into office on the wave of constant attention from the mainstream media. They loathed how the press played along with his game, draining the life out of every other candidate by describing him as an inevitable juggernaut, an unstoppable political force, and a game-changer who was tapping into something deep and powerful in American political life.
Bless their deplorable little hearts, they loved it from Trump.
They hated how Obama’s naive ignorance of the real and brutal world of international affairs was papered over by his hollow promises to make the world respect the United States again. But Trump’s Russia-inflected win, nuclear brinkmanship, and diplomacy-free MAGA-with-MOABs? Beloved.
Or, put another way:
Everything they despised in Obama’s political character and behavior they love from Trump.
Thank you Rick Wilson. Thank you for pointing out the blatant hypocrisy.
The ludicrous theory that Barack Obama was a Kenyan sleeper agent and that his birth certificate was fake sits atop a golden pyramid of dumbassery. It was always absurd, easily debunked, and politically idiotic, so of course Trump (inspired by Roger Stone, you’ll be shocked to hear) embraced it with gusto. If there was a single, long-lead warning that my party would eventually lose its goddamned mind and sink into the messy world of alternate facts, this was it.
Extolling the Virtues of Conservatism, not Trumpism
“(Under Trump) There is a clear pathway for the Democrats to become the party of fiscal sanity, probity, and responsibility.
I find it hard to write those words, but it’s true. Under Trump, the GOP wholly abandoned any pretense that we cared about the debt, the deficits, or borrowing trillions of dollars to fund our political wish list. Fiscal conservatism is a dead letter in my party, and there’s very little stopping the Democrats from picking up the mantle.
We once roundly mocked the Democrats as the liberal “Free Shit” party, but with Trump writing checks like a drunken sailor blowing his entire paycheck on hookers in Olongapo after three months at sea, we’ve lost that privilege.
Yup, using this the next time someone on the internet says that Republicans are the party of “fiscal responsibility”.
Trade is good; tariffs and isolation are bad. All nations seek advantage, and our global trade system is far from perfect, but the alternatives are spectacularly, existentially bad.
A drunk monkey can understand this, which is why it is an impenetrable mystery to this president.
There is a monstrous, looming Mt. Everest of economic studies and real-world examples that the Trump trade war and tariffs path leads to economic disaster. The irony was lost on the MAGA crowd, of course, but they’re the ones who will bear the costs and the burden of his blistering stupidity.
Mmm, delicious. Free trade was one of the bedrock Republican ideals that I subscribed to back in my Republican days. It was what made me love economics and was a heavy influence in me choosing my major.
Have I yet mentioned I love Rick Wilson’s snark?
Generations of Republican candidates for House, Senate, governor, and local offices argued that government’s size, power, and impact on everyday Americans was a pernicious danger to the Republic. Donald Trump erased that from the Republican vocabulary in a matter of months. Those in office who still believe government can be too big keep silent when President Statist pushes for a bigger, more intrusive state. The GOP is now the party of big government, and it’s all Trump’s fault.
The Troll Part of Trump has no hesitation in using hte power of government to bring their fantasy economic and social policies to life.
Trump has done more to destroy limited-government conservatism than George Soros could have accomplished in a thousand years.
“Small government” 😀
By their own words from just a few years ago, Obama was a lawless tyrant for using executive orders. The headlines from the conservative press were breathless and hyperbolic:
EXECUTIVE ORDER TYRANNY – OBAMA PLANS TO RULE AMERICA WITH PEN, PHONE
I was no fan of it myself, but if governing by executive order was wrong when Obama did it, why not when Trump does it? Is it just one more hypocritical knot in this skein of excuses Republicans will make for Trump?
Conservatives taking victory laps over Trump’s reversal of rules on coal, oil drilling, climate change, abortion, and other issues important to the cause are overlooking the fact that they haven’t truly achieved anything more than a momentary victory. They’ve given future Democratic presidents the justification not only to undo what Trump has done but to impose new executive orders of their own and continue to diminish the role of Congress in setting the laws that govern this nation.
Oh right, about that “executive overreach” …
What’s a Republican Politician to Do?
Why does Trump kill all that he touches? In part because he requires every man and woman in his orbit to destroy themselves to remain in his good graces.
He spends a lot of time chastising Republican politicians for cowtowing to the idiots of the base, whether they do so because of fear:
Somewhere along the line, members of the Trump base became objects of terror to members of Congress. One congressman told me of a moment when he was mildly critical of Trump in a town hall meeting, and within minutes people were posting threats to his Facebook page, blowing up his phone, and mentioning how they hoped he’d support Mr. Trump because otherwise how would the congressman’s kids grow up without a father?
These aren’t Republicans as we once knew them. They’re more feral, more fierce, and wildly less conservative. The narrow line between statism and conservatism is in the rearview mirror of their ratty, clapped-out beaters. They’re angry at everything, all the time, and they increasingly believe in vivid conspiracy theories that members of Congress with an ounce of sense won’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
or pragmatism / rationalization:
The Rationalizers’ permissive parent style of governing works about as well as letting your kids subsist on a diet of cookie dough and television.
“I wish he’d stop tweeting so much” is the equivalent of “Little Donald is so bright, but I wish he’d focus in class.”
“The President isn’t a conventional politician” translates as “We hope Donnie will channel his creativity, and stop setting fires and dissecting roadkill in the kitchen.”
On Reince Preibus, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, & Co.
I really enjoyed this section, but mostly because I really don’t enjoy Reince Preibus, Paul Ryan or Ted Cruz, no surprise there hahaha
Reince, however, will be remembered as the man who sold the GOP to Trump on the cheap. To his ironic credit, Priebus had ordered the infamous post-2012 Republican autopsy report, which called on the GOP to modernize, approach Hispanic voters differently, and reform itself.
Well that didn’t work out too hot.
Paul Ryan’s enabling of Donald Trump is a tragedy for conservatives in three acts.
Paul Ryan was like a man created in a laboratory to sell conservatism and the Republican Party to the American people in the post-Obama era. Then he embraced and enabled Donald Trump.
The idea that Trump was the only way he’d achieve his goals corrupted Paul Ryan.
Trump didn’t like Ryan failing to display the level of obsequious ass – kissing of, say, a Ted Cruz.
In all 30 years of political life, I have never seen a politician engage in acts of greater self-abnegation and humiliation.
More than almost any other member of the 2016 field, Ted Cruz helped normalize Trump, burning his credibility to a toasty crisp.
As the election progressed, it took an array of insiders from the GOP and the conservative movement to legitimize and normalize Trump for the Republican base voter beyond the howling edge of the Fox viewership. These men and women were Vichy Republicans, eager to shred their principles for a chance the to touch the fringe of Trump’s golden wig, eager to bask in the celebrity glow of his spray tan.
On Trump Himself
DONALD TRUMP IS A TERRIBLE president. That’s not an aesthetic judgment. That’s not a partisan judgment. It’s a simple tally of his incompetence, recklessness, and the costs he’s imposing on the nation he was elected to lead.
I’m not talking about the usual Washington problems, but the bigger, more sweeping costs we face as a nation. The predicate of Never Trump wasn’t simply that he couldn’t be president; it was that he shouldn’t be president.
Leadership takes two things Donald Trump notoriously and evidently lacks: character and an ability to engage in political acts that go beyond oneself.
Donald Trump ponders only how Fox & Friends covers the previous day. Presidential leadership has never before been about tweeting, preening, or boasting. It hasn’t been an endless exercise in self-fellation, until now.
Who could have imagined that a man of Donald Trump’s spectacular vulgarity, vanity, and gimcrack gold-leaf aesthetic would turn out to be a president without a shred of dignity?
Who would have thought a man with a grasp of history derived solely from movies and television would be unable to channel the wonder and power of this nation in times of crisis?
Who could imagine that a serial adulterer with a desperate need to have his manhood validated and who engaged in a string of risible, sleazy affairs would become an international laughingstock?
Who could have foreseen that the faux billionaire up to his ample ass in debt to God knows who would look at the White House as a way to nickel-and-dime the taxpayers and the GOP into bumping up his revenue stream at his hotels and golf courses?
Spoiler: everyone, ever. Those of you who hoped the awesome power and majesty of the presidency would draw Trump away from decades of tawdry, low behavior were in for a rude surprise.
The only unity emerging in the era of Trump is on the negative side: he has drawn people together in vocal, constant, furious anger. No modern political figure, left or right, has had more people hate him with a mad, burning passion than Donald Trump.
This president’s skill isn’t the art of the deal but the art of setting his own ass on fire and causing the world around him to panic.
Trump’s Idiotic Promises / “Accomplishments”
On the Wall:
Trump would pretend the Wall was going to stop the Bad Things and Brown People, when in reality he barely bestirred his round ass to do any of the political things needed to make a deal to build the wall. The Democrats offered the easiest path possible by offering to fund Donnie’s pet project in exchange for a DACA fix. It’s telling that for Trump the issue was never worth any compromise with the hot nationalists around him.
Of course, the Wall as a signifier was always more important than a wall qua wall. It was a way of making racial animus acceptable.
On the Muslim ban:
The travel ban was fatally flawed, but that didn’t stop the Camelot of Stupid from pursuing it until the last dog died. There are a dozen other ways to stop Islamic terrorism, but why not just engage in trolling by executive order instead?
Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey is the jewel in the stupid crown of his disastrous, tone-deaf, extralegal approach to government. He didn’t just fire his FBI director in a flagrant effort to obstruct justice; he bragged about it to both Lester Holt of NBC News, and to—you might want to sit down for a moment—the Russian ambassador in a private meeting in the Oval Office.
This decision would be the single most consequential moment in his early presidency, if only because it was so predictably going to lead to an epic political shitshow, launch the Mueller investigation, and haunt his every waking hour.
The Tax Bill:
For all of my party’s yammering about the evils of wealth redistribution, we’ve done a spectacular job of it with this tax bill; the corporate benefits are forever, but the Tax Policy Center predicts that just ten years from now Americans making under $100,000 a year will pay much more in taxes given the provisions of the Trump tax bill.
What about the 2017 tax bill? Isn’t it a towering Republican win, a brand-new conservative approach to . . . oh, who am I kidding? It’s a honking corporate tax cut. It’s a bill written by lobbyists for a tier of wealthy corporate and high-net-worth clients, a triumph of the Washington ecosystem of lobbying and paid advocacy.
About his Staff:
Donald Trump hasn’t drained the swamp or changed Washington in part because the only people he could find to join his government are human train wrecks.
Setting aside the clown show of the inner White House team, Trump’s administration combines all the things you’d expect: venality, incompetence, a stunning lack of policy knowledge, and a slurry of people dragged from Trump’s business world who couldn’t manage a Waffle House.
Trump doesn’t have staff; he has acolytes. He doesn’t have experts; he has enthusiasts.
Trump’s Relationship to the Press
Tune in Fox today, and it meets every clichéd liberal critique of the past twenty years: counterfactual conspiracy nonsense, yahoo-ism, least-common-denominator jingoism, deep and overt bias in story selection, and out-of-context smears. It turns out some Republicans didn’t want fair and balanced after all; they wanted an insular, partisan media environment biased toward the lunatic fringe and that delivered 24/7 Trump adoration.
It was the cable networks (and no, not just Fox), the elite media, inert major donors, a monied horde of lobbyists, and the professional conservative activists who ditched principle for revenue, clicks, and ratings, and transitory influence. They enabled, empowered, and elected Trump and continue to do so with their rolling coverage of his every presidential distraction strategy.
I thought this was a very good point, but raises the eternal dilemma of “if you cover him, you encourage him, but if you don’t cover him, you could be covering up his misdeeds.”
Of all the norms Trump has shattered, of all the damage he’s done to the Republic, the war on the press is the deepest affront to our traditions, values, and freedoms.
I wonder where the same conservatives will be on the day when some leftist statist in the Oval Office decides to try to shut down Fox or Limbaugh or moves in even more sweeping directions to regulate, control, or suppress conservative voices online.
If conservatives don’t see the downsides of this future, they’re working with a set of mental predicates that assume there will never be a tough election ahead, and never be a moment when the jackboot is on the other foot.
Sean Hannity is the frenzied end point of this particular flavor of conservative hypocrisy. The role he plays for Trump would launch a thousand screaming Media Research Center and Breitbart articles if the partisan brogue was on the other foot.
Imagine for a moment the Republican meltdown that would have come to pass if—hypothetically—Joe Scarborough had spent weeks advising Barack Obama on how to respond to the Benghazi investigation, or if Jake Tapper had counseled Hillary Clinton on her email server scandal. The incandescent, ass-on-fire meltdown would have been one for the ages.
Now THAT is an interesting hypothetical to pose.
Fox may be Trump’s safe space, but Trump is Fox’s safe space, too. It’s a circular feedback loop.
If you’re a conservative who sees this as a good outcome merely because Fox is nominally conservative, you might want to examine your priors.
The president of the United States is addicted to an endless stream of praise from a shallow, dangerously stupid man. That same dangerous, stupid man feeds America’s president a constant flow of conspiracy nonsense, uncritical praise, and uninformed opinion.
Trump’s Relationship with the Alt-Reich
IF THERE’S ONE GROUP I’ve delighted in seeing the ETTD curse hit, it’s the alt-right. The rise of an overtly racist, overtly anti-Semitic tendency in modern American politics is revolting and disturbing and needs a pure, cleansing fire to drive it back into the shadows.
No, not every Trump supporter is a racist, xenophobic, alt-right man-child. However, every racist, xenophobic alt-right man-child is a Trump supporter.
If there’s one legacy of his election and presidency we’ll spend decades cleaning up, it’s the casual ease with which he welcomed them into the daylight.
The fury I felt after defending my party for decades from attacks that it was inherently racist, only to have it elect a man racist in deed and word, tolerant of even more vile racists, and a hero to racists, white supremacists, and anti-Semites leaves me almost speechless with rage.
Everything we Never Trump folks warned you of, including massive, decades-long downstream election losses, is coming. Alienating African Americans and Hispanics beyond redemption? Check
Raising a generation of young voters who are fleeing the GOP in droves? Check.
Age old beefs, juvenile complaints, and ego bruises taking center stage while the world burns? Check.
Playing public footsie with white supremacists and neo-Nazis? Check.
Blistering pig-ignorance about the economy and world? Check.
Pushing a tax bill that jacks economic inequality into the stratosphere? Check.
Shredding the last iota of the GOP’s credibility as a party that cares about debt, deficits, and fiscal probity? Check.
Rick Wilson goes into a lot of detail about the long term damage to the Republican party as a result of Trump, specifically about how it changes the behavior of Republicans running for office in order to win their primaries.
Republican primaries have become contests for the Darwin Awards, a political version of hold-my-beer-watch-this bubba-ism. In their brave, stupid new world, it’s not enough to build the Wall; they want a 3,000-mile lava moat with robot alligators programmed to eat Mexicans, then a minefield to stop the stragglers, and finally laser turrets to fry the ones that escape the alligators and mines.
Trump’s unlikely win, driven by his shambolic, half-assed campaign, has convinced a generation of Republicans that the careful use of data, polling, analytics, and media placement can be replaced by grunting, atavistic “Build duh wall, deport ’em all” populism, Twitter, and rallies.
And about how that affects them in the general election:
The idea of running as a Trump Republican if you’re not Donald Trump is a catastrophically long reach anywhere outside of seats the best redistricting money can buy. If you’re in a safe seat in a district with a 15% GOP voter registration advantage in Asscrack, Arkansas, that might work. Almost everywhere else, the lesson from January 2017 until today has been that Trump is a mighty headwind for GOP candidates.
Moreover, he even talks about how you’re still fucked if you run as Republican even if you are a “good” Republican.
Baker’s political tragedy is the story of a good man trapped by a bad president and his own fear. With all his good works in the African American community blown away by a tide of hatred and racial animus that Donald Trump slammed back into the American political dialogue, I’m sure Baker today ponders the counterfactuals of a robust, sharp attack on Trump and riding out the anger of the Trump base. It’s a lesson for other Republicans, one that I am certain they’ll ignore.
A GOP looking backward, desperate to restore the economy, racial composition, and social structures of the 1950s, is bad for the brand, and the kind of nostalgia that is both pointless and cruel.
Democrats learned this lesson in Bill Clinton’s election of 1992, and again with Barack Obama in 2008. Both men were more optimistic than their Republican counterparts, painting a vision of an America that works and moves forward without fear.
This was solid reflection, imo. The Republican party has embraced looking backwards with nostalgia as their MO – The second A in MAGA is AGAIN after all.
Beto and Obama were, for me at least, visions *forward*, of hope and optimism in the FUTURE. Don’t know about Bill; I was too young.
Dear Democrats: this chapter is for you. Sure, my Republican and independent readers may still glean some amusement or information from it, but I hope you’ll pay attention. Here’s the Truth: Democrats are bad at politics.
No, really. You’re holistically bad at politics both on election day and in the cut-and-thrust of Eashington, and your lack of skills is often Trump’s best ally.
This…was a surprising interlude chapter, with some insights I do and don’t agree with.
Another reason we took over 1,100 legislative seats from you over the past 15 years is your top-down ideology. Florida is not Vermont. Michigan is not Wyoming. New York is not North Carolina. As long as you insist on a single set of national standards for your party candidates, you limit the regions, states, and districts in which you can effectively compete.
The New York Times had a great podcast regarding this with Democrats in Missouri, and I do actually agree with this. By running identical candidates everywhere, we do actually limit the states we can win. The 2018 mid-terms saw this in Missouri and Indiana, and Pod Save America talks about whether or not the Senate will be permanently lost because of it.
I agree. I may have my principles, but I also know that not every Democrat across the nation holds my exact beliefs, and I think it’s extremely limiting to try to run a cookie-cutter candidate. The only way to achieve big change is through small incremental changes and this means fielding candidates that work for each region/state.
Ideological rigidity on abortion costs you votes in the aggregate outside of coastal enclaves, but it’s nothing at all compared to guns.
Do you want to know how we beat you, over and over and over? This is going to sting for my Democratic friends, but one of the easiest ways for people on my side to disqualify you with large chunks of American voters is the subject of guns.
This one, I’m a little torn about. I’ve heard the argument that Beto cost himself the 2018 mid-term in Texas because of his stance on guns. Part of me believes it because of anecdotal evidence of people that didn’t vote for him “because he wants to ban sales of AR-15s” (never mind that he would have let you keep yours if you already owned it, or why people even need an AR-15…I digress). The other part of me believes that this actually is the future of activating younger progressives who actually are scared of getting gunned down at school.
I, luckily, did not really ever worry about this kind of thing, and working in as an adult now, I still don’t worry about it. I don’t have kids yet, so I’m not worried about my little ones getting gunned down.
Texas had a school shooting in Galveston, and I thought that, for sure, would activate people behind Beto for his gun control common sense stances, but … nope. I thought we would have a similar reaction to Parkland, but … nope – just another shooting, and then it was like it never happened.
But then again – maybe I’m wrong.
Gun control and gun violence make it into the top 10 of any Most Important Problem polling question panel for about a minute after a tragedy like Parkland, then fall back to where they usually live: in the 1 to 5% range. Jobs, the economy, the direction of the nation, and national security still drive voter decisions. Gun control hasn’t, and doesn’t.
You (democrats) can’t grasp that millions and millions of Americans who own guns, hunt, shoot for sport or pleasure, or carry for self-defense hear your attacks on guns as attacks on them.
So, on this, I’m torn. Part of me thinks that people do care about this – but Rick puts the situation in a very interesting way here, especially that last sentence.
If some gun owners will hear all gun control measures as attacks on them, how will we ever deal with the gun violence problem? That frames the situation as: either you can fix the gun control problem and probably not get elected; or you can get elected, but kids are still going to die. Shitty choices.
Yeah, I disagree with Wilson on this issue. But I think it’s because he’s framing gun control in the “all guns”-mindset. And maybe it’s just me, but let’s be honest, if you value getting reelected over a kid’s life you can’t call yourself pro-life, and you definitely have priorities that are wayyyyy out of whack.
(on Pelosi) While we’re on the subject of the GOP’s secret weapons, I’ll name another: Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi may raise a metric crap-ton of money for the Democrats, but she sets the rest of America’s teeth on edge. Ever wonder why we stuck her in candidate and SuperPAC ads against you until Trump came along? Because it worked for a long, long time; only Trump has made her more palatable.
…she scans as harsh, shrill, partisan, and out of touch to Republicans and = importantly – an enormous swath of independents. We used her against you because she’s a convenient shorthand for the things many Americans see as culturally and socially disconnected from their lives.
On this, I defer to an argument I regularly see on /r/politics. Nancy Pelosi is crazy effective. She is a big reason that the Affordable Care Act exists at all, and she does a great job as House Speaker – the reason why most Republicans hate her is because she is effective.
Yes, what Rick says here is correct to some degree – most Republican attack ads are now going to feature her. And maybe Rick is right in that she doesn’t poll well with independents and Republicans.
But what are we, as a party, supposed to do about that – every time Republicans latch on to an effective democrat with attacks, abandon them? That seems like a good way to get rid of our best talent at their request.
Right?!? I’m all for Pelosi, like Edmund said, she’s crazy effective, and she know’s her stuff better than anyone. And so what if Republicans go after her? They’ve yet to sink her, Dems won the midterms, and man alive she knows how to drive Trump crazy.
So most of this review was quotes. Rick Wilson is very witty, imo, and I in part made this review so that way I’d have easy things to reference when I wanted to get in internet fights haha.
That being said, some takeaways were very important. In talking about this book with Rachel, I remember saying that one of the weirder chapters was his “looking forward” chapter, where he talks about how Republicans can recover from all of this – where the party should go after Trump.
And I remember saying to Rachel “Um, is he just saying they should become democrats?” Because almost everything he said the Republican party should embrace was something that the Democratic party is already currently embracing – Look forward, not backwards – don’t be fucking racist – respect the rule of law (It’s Mueller time!)- embrace the constitution and respect our institutions – quit bitching about gay marriage – legalize marijuana.
That chapter was…weird. I left it feeling like “Dude, just switch parties, like I did. Being R is not in your DNA – it’s changeable.”
That is exactly what I felt after finishing this book. I mean, c’mon Wilson, I know you’ve made your career in Rep politics, but I don’t think it would kill you to switch to Dem. You know you want to, and why not try to fix your mistakes by working to get “the other team” elected? Seems like a win-win to me.
All in all, this book was much better than I expected. The snark was extremely entertaining, and he legit brought up some parallels I hadn’t thought of before (the hypothetical about someone from MSNBC being a Presidential advisor to Obama for instance). I’ll have plenty of material for internet fights going forward, and it’ll be a nice bonus to lead with “As GOP strategist Wilson says, ____ .”
Already did it once on the Tarant County Republican page and they seemed stumped when they couldn’t just attack Democrats as a response haha.
I’ll close this review with some pieces from his closing chapter that I found poignant:
Being such an acid-tongued bastard, it sometimes gets lost that it’s not simply that I hate Donald Trump. It’s not simply that I loathe his status as a shit-tier human in every measurable axis and think he’s a stain on the presidency. It’s that I love this big, messy, chaotic experiment we call America. It’s because deep in my heart, I know that the country I love is tougher and vastly better than he is and, when called to its higher purpose, always answers.
Resistance on the right to Trump isn’t just out of stubbornness. It would be easy to say conservatism will survive under the moral and political disaster that is Donald Trump, but it wouldn’t be honest to do so. Team MAGA and the Trump GOP would love for us to shut up and let the world burn.
Like the Guilty Men of Great Britain who sought peace at any price with Herr Hitler, the new establishment conservatives who seek Trump at any price to the country, the movement, and the party will have to contend with the stubborn, angry, determined minority of us who still stand for something more than Nielsen ratings and the Twitter fury of a game show host masquerading as a president.
I think my wrap-up quote would be one of cautious optimism:
Call me a cockeyed optimist about the power of this country to not only welcome but also to create new Americans, but I still believe that we are a system, not a race. We are a nation of universal ideals and principles, not just a few lines on a map or a wall in the desert.
This quote from Ulysses S. Grant was especially moving for me, and a great way to end this review:
Whatever may have been my political opinions before, I have but one sentiment now. That is, we have a Government, and laws and a flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, traitors and patriots, and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter, and I trust, the stronger party.