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It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump

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"A brilliant, unflinching look at the descent of the GOP - backed up with data, historic sweep & first person insights. This one is a must read." --John Avlon "I devoured an early copy in one sitting the day it arrived - highly recommend It Was All a Lie if you want to try to understand how the GOP got to this very dark place." --Elise Jordan "It's great! Highly recommend." "A brilliant, unflinching look at the descent of the GOP - backed up with data, historic sweep & first person insights. This one is a must read." --John Avlon "I devoured an early copy in one sitting the day it arrived - highly recommend It Was All a Lie if you want to try to understand how the GOP got to this very dark place." --Elise Jordan "It's great! Highly recommend." --Max Boot From the most successful Republican political operative of his generation, a searing, unflinching, and deeply personal expos� of how his party became what it is today Stuart Stevens spent decades electing Republicans at every level, from presidents to senators to local officials. He knows the GOP as intimately as anyone in America, and in this new book he offers a devastating portrait of a party that has lost its moral and political compass. This is not a book about how Donald J. Trump hijacked the Republican Party and changed it into something else. Stevens shows how Trump is in fact the natural outcome of five decades of hypocrisy and self-delusion, dating all the way back to the civil rights legislation of the early 1960s. Stevens shows how racism has always lurked in the modern GOP's DNA, from Goldwater's opposition to desegregation to Ronald Reagan's welfare queens and states' rights rhetoric. He gives an insider's account of the rank hypocrisy of the party's claims to embody "family values," and shows how the party's vaunted commitment to fiscal responsibility has been a charade since the 1980s. When a party stands for nothing, he argues, it is only natural that it will be taken over by the loudest and angriest voices in the room. It Was All a Lie is not just an indictment of the Republican Party, but a candid and often lacerating mea culpa. Stevens is not asking for pity or forgiveness; he is simply telling us what he has seen firsthand. He helped to create the modern party that kneels before a morally bankrupt con man and now he wants nothing more than to see what it has become burned to the ground.


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"A brilliant, unflinching look at the descent of the GOP - backed up with data, historic sweep & first person insights. This one is a must read." --John Avlon "I devoured an early copy in one sitting the day it arrived - highly recommend It Was All a Lie if you want to try to understand how the GOP got to this very dark place." --Elise Jordan "It's great! Highly recommend." "A brilliant, unflinching look at the descent of the GOP - backed up with data, historic sweep & first person insights. This one is a must read." --John Avlon "I devoured an early copy in one sitting the day it arrived - highly recommend It Was All a Lie if you want to try to understand how the GOP got to this very dark place." --Elise Jordan "It's great! Highly recommend." --Max Boot From the most successful Republican political operative of his generation, a searing, unflinching, and deeply personal expos� of how his party became what it is today Stuart Stevens spent decades electing Republicans at every level, from presidents to senators to local officials. He knows the GOP as intimately as anyone in America, and in this new book he offers a devastating portrait of a party that has lost its moral and political compass. This is not a book about how Donald J. Trump hijacked the Republican Party and changed it into something else. Stevens shows how Trump is in fact the natural outcome of five decades of hypocrisy and self-delusion, dating all the way back to the civil rights legislation of the early 1960s. Stevens shows how racism has always lurked in the modern GOP's DNA, from Goldwater's opposition to desegregation to Ronald Reagan's welfare queens and states' rights rhetoric. He gives an insider's account of the rank hypocrisy of the party's claims to embody "family values," and shows how the party's vaunted commitment to fiscal responsibility has been a charade since the 1980s. When a party stands for nothing, he argues, it is only natural that it will be taken over by the loudest and angriest voices in the room. It Was All a Lie is not just an indictment of the Republican Party, but a candid and often lacerating mea culpa. Stevens is not asking for pity or forgiveness; he is simply telling us what he has seen firsthand. He helped to create the modern party that kneels before a morally bankrupt con man and now he wants nothing more than to see what it has become burned to the ground.

30 review for It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This book was so freaking satisfying! It's like if you've been gaslighted by the GOP and the media's both sideism for so long and then someone comes out and validates everything you've been feeling. It is exactly like that actually. Stevens is unsparing in his criticism of the cynicism of the modern GOP. He is a former Republican and I don't agree with his views on deficits or taxes or deregulation, but he is absolutely right that the GOP's base is mostly motivated by white grievance. I would lo This book was so freaking satisfying! It's like if you've been gaslighted by the GOP and the media's both sideism for so long and then someone comes out and validates everything you've been feeling. It is exactly like that actually. Stevens is unsparing in his criticism of the cynicism of the modern GOP. He is a former Republican and I don't agree with his views on deficits or taxes or deregulation, but he is absolutely right that the GOP's base is mostly motivated by white grievance. I would love for all of my Republican friends to read this and sadly I don't think they will.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    Inside scoop on voter suppression..... https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episod... =========== RNC speaker: only male head of households should have the vote. https://www.glamour.com/story/anti-ab... ================ They all knew.... https://mobile.twitter.com/adamparkho... ========= "The Republican Party has invested heavily in the myth of voter fraud. The fraud is trying to convince the public there is voter fraud of any significance. I’ve worked in campaigns since 1978, and I don’t know of a single race Inside scoop on voter suppression..... https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episod... =========== RNC speaker: only male head of households should have the vote. https://www.glamour.com/story/anti-ab... ================ They all knew.... https://mobile.twitter.com/adamparkho... ========= "The Republican Party has invested heavily in the myth of voter fraud. The fraud is trying to convince the public there is voter fraud of any significance. I’ve worked in campaigns since 1978, and I don’t know of a single race in which illegal voters were remotely a factor". Stevens, Stuart (2020-08-04). It Was All a Lie (p. 133). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ============= Many got suckered by Reagan, but he was also no different than Trump.... "By maximizing white grievance and suppressing the African American vote through a combination of manipulation, lies, and legal challenges. It was this road that the Republican Party took to the Trump White House. There is nothing new about Donald Trump. He hasn’t invented a new politics or executed a brilliant and novel strategy. Barry Goldwater, George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and even Ronald Reagan played the same race-based politics of resentment." Reaganomics was a farce and the Laffer Curve a false metric. Thomas Piketty, in his excellent book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, demonstrates that the Reagan tax cuts were the beginning of what is a cavernous income gap, comparable to the corrupt Gilded Age of the late 19th century after the Civil War. One mistake Reagan did not make was to trust Russia.... "In a sane world, a center-right party of a country facing an attack on the foundation of its democracy would lead the charge to defend the country. It was a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who issued the ringing challenge to the Soviet Union “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” That party has now been transformed into Russian apologists, more concerned with defending Donald Trump than defending the country." =========== "The GOP race memo is a playbook for how best to play the race card, and Republican candidates have used similar tactics for decades. The logical and best course was to minimize the impact of black voters in various ways. This was the Nixon strategy in 1972. It was the Trump strategy in 2016. It was so obvious that even the Russians adopted it, attempting to instigate tensions among black voters to help Trump win." "Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Lou Dobbs, and an endless stream of professional nuts and cranks who roam the internet are selling conspiracies, bitterness, grievance, and anger, in search of an argument." In 2019, The New York Times broke the story (below) that Donald Trump for over a decade had managed to lose more money than any other American and, in some years, twice as much as any other American, according to the I.R.S. information on high earners. Indeed, in 1990 and 1991, his core businesses lost more than $250 million each year—more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the sampling for those years. Trump claims to be a great businessman who was wildly successful, while in fact he was one of the greatest failures in modern American business history. This is the man Republicans chose because of his business smarts and success? https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/07/us... ============ The Trials of Henry Kissinger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxfA-...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    This author gets it. There is a reason I ignore the ramblings of Republicans who claim they are Republicans but just can’t tolerate Trump and won’t be voting for him this fall. This author is a pleasant counter-point to all the other never Trumpers that I meet in life because this author gets it that the Republicans weren’t led astray by a racist misogynist fascist power seeking autocrat, but the Republican Party at their core is made up of deplorable human beings and is led by sycophants who wa This author gets it. There is a reason I ignore the ramblings of Republicans who claim they are Republicans but just can’t tolerate Trump and won’t be voting for him this fall. This author is a pleasant counter-point to all the other never Trumpers that I meet in life because this author gets it that the Republicans weren’t led astray by a racist misogynist fascist power seeking autocrat, but the Republican Party at their core is made up of deplorable human beings and is led by sycophants who want nothing more than power itself for the sake of power to enrich the wealthy and their privileged class. Talk radio and Fox News hate is who they are and who they want to be. The author is not writing an apologia (a defense), he is writing a mea maxima culpa (he and all the Republican enablers are to blame and he is truly sorry). Republicans have hid behind ‘culture, community and religion’ in order to justify their hate of the other. The author deservedly frames the story such that only a deplorable human being could be a Republican and it really has nothing to do with Trump. Is there really any difference between the Zodiac Killer (Ted Cruz) and Trump? The difference is only Trump knows how to appeal to the lizard brains of his deplorable racist misogynist at a visceral level and the Republicans all long for the days when George Wallace and most of all the other knew their place and their place was not at the same table with them. The author points out ‘polarization’ is a false dichotomy that’s foisted on to us by ‘both siderists’ while the reality is that the Republican Party and their enablers are radicalizing and legitimating their racism, homophobia and anti-science fake news make believe garbage only to create power for the sake of power and the Republicans are to blame and are not worthy of our consideration. Trump is they and they are Trump, or in other words, the Republicans and Trump are one and the same. The author made one stupid statement that hurt his argument. He made the statement that no Catholic really believes the Host is the body of Christ. There’s no reason to ever say that because to Catholics it can be true. Of the 87% of evangelical white Christians who voted for Trump for example, not a one believes that they are homophobes since ‘they hate the sin, not the sinner’, or not a one thinks ‘black lives matter’ since to them all lives matter, and they never realized that at one time it was the Romans who fed Christians to the lions and then they would have realized that ‘Christian lives matter’ had meaning, but today they forget their own past because they are too busy hating the other when the other is not them. To a Catholic the host is real and they don’t question its supernatural status and they probably haven’t read St. Thomas Aquinas this week on the nature of the Trinity (just as an example, because I’m currently reading his Summa Theologia and can’t wait to get to the part on why he thinks the Host is real) and they have no reason to question their faith since to pretend to know is good enough for them to believe what seems absurd to all except for those within the paradigmatic bubble, and that is the same reason why Republicans never see their own hate. There is really no middle ground when it comes to racists and the Republican Party that enables them through an obfuscation of scientific reality by hiding behind conspiracy non-sense dressed up as unreasonable incoherent alternatives. Tolerance is not a suicide pact. Compromise is not necessary when dealing with those who assume there is only one identity worthy of having and that’s the identity for the wealthy and the already privileged who just happens to be their privileged class, the one identity without an identity. Mitch McConnell has no interest in controlling Donald Trump. The Republicans are not possessed by a demon they are the demon. This author gets it and lays it out better than most never Trumpers. For example, never Trumper Tim Alberta’s book American Carnage was awful. He blamed the Democrats for not listening or compromising with the Republicans thus creating a place for Donald Trump as if Trump was not channeling the evil that lies within the racist who make up the Republican Party. Alberta also blamed the Democrats for being part of the politically correct excessive critters as if I long to be able to use racial or homophobic slurs like we used to be able to in the 1960s when George Wallace was preaching his hate. This author gets it, the Republicans are beyond repair and are not worth saving because they hate the others who are not like them and compromise is not necessary with those who are hateful and it is not wrong to hate that which is evil. Did you notice that Trump held the Bible upside down when he was in front of that church; It’s as if the devil knows he must hold the Bible upside down otherwise it will only burn his fingers.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    Searing indictment of the Republican Party by a well respected Republican strategist. Well researched, the author makes a strong case that the Republican Party lost it’s way many years before Trump, but he is the one who exposed the party’s soullessness and hypocrisy. But as to Trump, the author notes Republicans know he’s incompetent but cling to him for the benefits he may seem to bring them all the while denying responsibility. Perhaps the most chilling section is where the author writes: “If Searing indictment of the Republican Party by a well respected Republican strategist. Well researched, the author makes a strong case that the Republican Party lost it’s way many years before Trump, but he is the one who exposed the party’s soullessness and hypocrisy. But as to Trump, the author notes Republicans know he’s incompetent but cling to him for the benefits he may seem to bring them all the while denying responsibility. Perhaps the most chilling section is where the author writes: “If I could make every Republican elected officials read one book, it would be the memoirs of [Franz von] Papen, the aristocratic chancellor of Germany who dissolved the German parliament and enabled Hitler to rise to power . . . . [it] is a study in self-deception by an intelligent man who knows he made terrible mistakes” trying to justify his disastrous decisions.” As a party that predominantly appeals to white people,not reflecting the true diversity of this country, Republicans are focused on only one thing: winning and winning at any cost even if this means cheating in any and every possible way. Good read but depressing too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette (Again)

    An actual Republican operative confirms herein everything I've been trying to tell people about the Republican party for decades!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tucker

    Stevens is a former Republican strategist who, post-2016, has concluded that the Republican Party was always deceptive about its values. Stevens personally felt strongly committed to certain values, and he championed them through political work, but now he has decided that Republicans in general were always weakly committed and that is why they so easily cast their professed values aside in 2016. Thus, what the Republicans said and did "was all a lie." I published an article on Medium. Stevens is a former Republican strategist who, post-2016, has concluded that the Republican Party was always deceptive about its values. Stevens personally felt strongly committed to certain values, and he championed them through political work, but now he has decided that Republicans in general were always weakly committed and that is why they so easily cast their professed values aside in 2016. Thus, what the Republicans said and did "was all a lie." I published an article on Medium.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    I am glad this Republican has become a never Trumper. Congratulations you have the minimal amount of moral fiber to leave a moral disaster. However, the logic and the strategy and interest Republicans represent reach their logical conclusion in Trump. I don't think he understands that what was a tactic to gain votes based on racism became the ideological basis of the true believers in the present. One time maybe it was the seventies or eighties the southern strategy was a manipulation of the bas I am glad this Republican has become a never Trumper. Congratulations you have the minimal amount of moral fiber to leave a moral disaster. However, the logic and the strategy and interest Republicans represent reach their logical conclusion in Trump. I don't think he understands that what was a tactic to gain votes based on racism became the ideological basis of the true believers in the present. One time maybe it was the seventies or eighties the southern strategy was a manipulation of the base on behalf of corporate America to get their program through by appealing to racist elements of the population. That is what the dog-whistling was all about but the cynical but rational manipulators over time got replaced by True Believers. The dog whistle became a bullhorn and the cynical tactic became gospel truth of ideology. Now that people like the author have created this monster they can ride the tiger they unleashed or they can let go and look for help with opponents. However, the problem of the Lincoln project is that not only are they seeking asylum in the opposite party but want to make the Dems like the Republicans of old. Sorry you ruined one party I don't need y'all screwing up the other.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    Republican Party elite abrogate political responsibility Stuart Stevens is a senior Republican strategist who worked on numerous political campaigns of both Republican presidential and congressional candidates. Yet in his book “It Was All a Lie” he sees a modern Republican Party that has forsaken its core values and principles in support of a president who doesn’t stand for those values. Why do that? Stevens response is for too many of the Party elite being in the winning party is more important Republican Party elite abrogate political responsibility Stuart Stevens is a senior Republican strategist who worked on numerous political campaigns of both Republican presidential and congressional candidates. Yet in his book “It Was All a Lie” he sees a modern Republican Party that has forsaken its core values and principles in support of a president who doesn’t stand for those values. Why do that? Stevens response is for too many of the Party elite being in the winning party is more important than being in a losing party dedicated to ideals that while important are not winning. He cites that after the 2012 presidential election loss, the party did a thorough analysis to determine how to make the party more inclusive. Yet four years later, the party nominated the most virulently racist candidate to run for that office in decades. The Party which traditionally espoused family values, chose a standard bearer who was married 3 times, having had an affair with his soon to be second wife while still married to his first. The Party that supported free trade has now become the most protectionist party since the 1920s and 1930s all thanks to a president who appears to despise all foreign cooperation unless the US can exploit decisive advantage from it. Stevens sees that the role of the Party should be to protect the party values. Yet because they have chosen to turn a blind eye to a party that is led and ravaged by a demagogue, they have meekly stood by while he has destroyed that party. He sees that when the Party elite abrogates their primary duty in protecting the party then there is little value left in the current party. This is an interesting topic, made all the more intriguing as we near to the 2020 election. Though decided after this book was written, the fact the Republicans decided to adopt the exact same Party Platform they had in 2016, despite the fact that a pandemic and economic have wracked the country, is yet further evidence how the Party still is not a party of principle. Will the Party prevail in spite of the issues Stevens presents? Time will tell.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Gibson

    The title is perfect. Stuart Stevens lifts the veil on today’s Republican Party and demonstrates convincingly that it is hollowed out, overtly racist, and existing only to perpetuate power in a country growing less White every day. I doubt that the book will change minds, or even open eyes, but I give Stevens credit for owning up to the monster he helped create, and for calling out the cowards he once called friends. Recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    Stevens, a former(?) Republican campaign strategist, offers his analysis of why Donald Trump was not an anomaly but an inevitability as the presidential candidate for the Republican party. Here's a highlight to set up the thesis: "As much as I’d love to go to bed at night reassuring myself that Donald Trump was some freak product of the system—a “black swan,” as his ludicrously unqualified son-in-law says—I can’t do it. I can’t keep lying to myself to ward off the depressing reality that I had be Stevens, a former(?) Republican campaign strategist, offers his analysis of why Donald Trump was not an anomaly but an inevitability as the presidential candidate for the Republican party. Here's a highlight to set up the thesis: "As much as I’d love to go to bed at night reassuring myself that Donald Trump was some freak product of the system—a “black swan,” as his ludicrously unqualified son-in-law says—I can’t do it. I can’t keep lying to myself to ward off the depressing reality that I had been lying to myself for decades. There is nothing strange or unexpected about Donald Trump. He is the logical conclusion of what the Republican Party became over the last fifty or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race, self-deception, and anger that became the essence of the Republican Party. Trump isn’t an aberration of the Republican Party; he is the Republican Party in a purified form." Stevens proceeds to offer clues he claims to have misread decades ago, clues that would have prophesied the emergence of a Donald Trump. I generally find these kinds of arguments too pliable to be persuasive, and while the author did quote a wide variety of sources to make a sober argument I suspect anyone else could find plenty of other sources to argue the opposite. There are just so many articles, speeches, policies and laws from the past five decades it's possible to argue almost anything. Nonetheless the material is interesting and seems well sourced. If that was all there was to the book I'd rate it 3 stars and leave it at that. Stevens is a Never Trumper and his blistering depictions of Trump, Newt Gingrich and a few others were the best parts in my lowbrow estimation. Here's a sample: "Like Trump, Gingrich spent decades in the pursuit of what he considered “trading up” in wives, starting with his high school geometry teacher and ending up, as of this writing, with a former intern he was having sex with while leading the impeachment against Bill Clinton for lying about having sex with an intern. That the former House intern, Callista Gingrich, is now the American ambassador to the Vatican is further evidence both that irony is dead and that God has a sense of humor. In most normalized societies, Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump would be considered nonserious comic figures to be pitied if in a charitable mood and mocked if less generous. Both are total frauds at their self-described identities. As has been observed, Newt Gingrich is a dumb person’s idea of a smart person, and Donald Trump is a not-rich person’s idea of wealth. It says a lot about the Republican Party that both of these disturbed and broken men have become dominant figures. Their unifying thread is anger at a world that has treated them far more generously than they deserved." The book isn't especially long or taxing, I read it over a weekend. It's audience is pretty specific and most of us are stratified enough to know if we're the right audience. If you're inclined to like what the author has to say you won't be disappointed. If you're on the fence read some of the highlights.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    For sometime I have been following the work of the Lincoln project For some time I have been following the work of the Lincoln project with their hard-hitting ads on YouTube. (I have significant doubt, however, as to their efficacy in convincing Republicans to move away from Donald Trump. I believe it is mostly progressives who like the ads, and I worry about their success in getting liberals to part with their money. I also think there is, for some of the founders of the group an effort to white For sometime I have been following the work of the Lincoln project For some time I have been following the work of the Lincoln project with their hard-hitting ads on YouTube. (I have significant doubt, however, as to their efficacy in convincing Republicans to move away from Donald Trump. I believe it is mostly progressives who like the ads, and I worry about their success in getting liberals to part with their money. I also think there is, for some of the founders of the group an effort to whitewash their own reputations, when they bear a great deal of responsibility for bringing us to the point we are in.) Stevens, however, it’s not one of those. In this book, he looks within himself, and submits to an inventory of his own role in bringing us to the point of a Donald Trump presidency. Stevens is a lifelong political operative, in fact the most successful Republican political operative of his generation. He has worked on media strategy for a long list of prominent Republicans, including George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, as well as Republican governors such as Larry Hogan and Charlie Baker. He felt, and still feels, that the candidates he worked for are decent people whose values and behavior are a far cry from Trump’s. And yet, he now recognizes that the principles he always thought the Republican party represented were mostly window dressing. He finally sees that racism has always been at the center of Republican strategy, dating back to Barry Goldwater. He sees that the claims that “character matters“ were discarded in the blink of an eye when it was convenient to do so. He sees that the belief in small government was a fake, and that Republicans have no qualms about blowing up the deficit when they are in power, only to revert to being deficit hawks under a Democratic administration. None of these insights are new for a Democrat, of course. But it takes a great deal of honesty and humility for a Republican to now realize these things. It is, essentially, admitting in public that you have been a fool. I am far from sure that I could do this myself were the tables turned. Naturally, I would not now expect Stevens to turn around and become a liberal. I am sure he still stands by the beliefs he has had all his life. It’s just that he feels that very few are standing beside him. It is a cry of shame on the failure of the institutional Republican party, and a lament on the weakness and cowardice of Congressional Republicans who refuse to stand up against the man they all said they despised a few months earlier, and who admit, in private, they still despise even now. This is a quick read, and the author is well read and knowledgeable. I don’t know who the intended audience is, exactly. I think the author had something he needed to get off his chest. As I said above, Democrats are in for no surprises in terms of the insights on the Republican party. We have known all this for a long time now. More interesting, to me, is Stevens himself. I would have liked still more insight on him. Did the scales fall from his eyes only when Donald Trump became president? Would he have gone on his merry way as before, if we had had had Jeb Bush instead? I suspect the answer is yes. And yet this critique of the Republican party would have been true in a Jeb Bush presidency as well. He just wouldn’t have seen what he now sees. Perhaps it takes a jolt as hard as Donald Trump to force someone toundergo this kind of a paradigm shift. More insight into this question would have made this a better book for me. But if his goal is to speak to wavering Republicans, this is the book he wanted to write. so, recommended. But the people who need to read it probably won’t.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leo Walsh

    IT WAS ALL A LIE is written by one-time GOP campaign operative and commercial creator Stuart Stevens. He was wildly successful, operating within the GOP echo chamber with one goal: to help the GOP win. Because he believed in their center-right principles: limited government, balanced budgets, free-markets, and personal responsibility. And he had assumed that voters were voting Republican because they shared his core beliefs. For Stuart and the other politicos, the only thing that mattered was wi IT WAS ALL A LIE is written by one-time GOP campaign operative and commercial creator Stuart Stevens. He was wildly successful, operating within the GOP echo chamber with one goal: to help the GOP win. Because he believed in their center-right principles: limited government, balanced budgets, free-markets, and personal responsibility. And he had assumed that voters were voting Republican because they shared his core beliefs. For Stuart and the other politicos, the only thing that mattered was winning. Along the way, though, he came face-to-face with moral dilemmas that he ignored. For instance, he race-baited in ads.... because it worked. Like the GOP, he ignored the huge holes that their compulsive tax-cuts have blown into the US budget, despite Republican administrations out-spending EVERY Democratic one since the 80s... even Barack Obama, who faced an economic melt-down. What's more, he reports on other hypocrisies he's seen in the GOP. For instance, he notes that there is a very high percentage of the super-conservative members of the GOP who are closeted gays. What's more, many of their operatives and staffers are also gay. One of those gay staffers quips to him about a GOP candidate he was working with when Stuart inquired if he thought the politician was gay, said: "he's conservative enough to be gay."And of course, he ignored the GOP's concerted efforts to attack LGBTQ rights... in efforts driven by these very politicians. Amazing. In the end, this is a scathing attack of what has become of the modern GOP, America's one-time center-right party. It took Trump's being elected to see the GOP for what it's really become: a white person's party peddling white supremacy. And he now sees that choices that GOP has made and he helped drive home in a new light. Like the Lincoln Project ads against Trump, the indictment is more salient since it's coming from a disillusioned one-time true believer. Four-stars. A short, fascinating memoir.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Budd Margolis

    I started reading this book just when the news broke of Jerry Falwell Jr. who was placed on indefinite leave as Liberty University chancellor and president amid a scandal over the posting of offensive photo and Steve Bannon who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of money laundering and fraud related to his involvement with the We Build the Wall project. We live in a topsy-turvy world where lies are now acceptable and have been weaponized, up is down, white is black and integrity no I started reading this book just when the news broke of Jerry Falwell Jr. who was placed on indefinite leave as Liberty University chancellor and president amid a scandal over the posting of offensive photo and Steve Bannon who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of money laundering and fraud related to his involvement with the We Build the Wall project. We live in a topsy-turvy world where lies are now acceptable and have been weaponized, up is down, white is black and integrity no longer counts? I have to ask, even pinch, myself where is this all headed? That is why I picked this book up and have been engrossed at the admission of the author's role and how the Republican party of principles has become an absolute and complete lie. We must cleanse the party and return to making peoples lives much better, stop feeding Corporations with tax breaks and enriching billionaires at the sake of the middle class. This is a crucial moment in time and I found this book an eye-opener. Yes, I knew politicians lie but people of faith, the Evangelicals, so complicit in deceit and evil as to be a shock to my system. The devil rules now and they adore him? How does that equate on a scale of morality, integrity, honesty and God fairing life? Really, this is a well written, vital and important book!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris Gleck

    Another quick read - two in one week! I confess I purchased this book having placed it on order before publishing when I saw the author on a TV show. This is definitely a case of preaching to the choir, but in this instance, the preacher is Catholic and the choir is Protestant. I mean that figuratively since the "preacher" is Republican and the "choir" (me) is Democratic. His premise is that Trump is the logical outcome of 50 years of trends in the Republican party, which he no longer considers Another quick read - two in one week! I confess I purchased this book having placed it on order before publishing when I saw the author on a TV show. This is definitely a case of preaching to the choir, but in this instance, the preacher is Catholic and the choir is Protestant. I mean that figuratively since the "preacher" is Republican and the "choir" (me) is Democratic. His premise is that Trump is the logical outcome of 50 years of trends in the Republican party, which he no longer considers to be a legitimate political, governing party acting in the best interests of the country and democracy. It is a damning (but accurate in my viewpoint) indictment of the Republican Party and consequently Trump. What makes this so significant to me, however, is that he was a longtime Republican campaign operative which makes his indictment more credible than would a similar work written by someone from the Democratic side. He owns up to his own role and failings, but also had the excuse that he merely worked on campaigns and was paid to win, but never worked in government or in policy development. I will be keeping this book for the time being to keep the well-documented accounting of the failings of the Republican party.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Walt Boyes

    Read this and weep! If you are a Republican, read this and ask yourself how your party got this way. If you aren’t, don’t congratulate yourself— we all bought the lie. Now go do something about it. Vote as if your life depends on it— because it does.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cooper Renner

    A profoundly damning mea culpa and evisceration of the modern Republican Party by a man who helped Republicans get elected for almost 40 years before the rise of Trump opened his eyes to the enormous amorality of what had once been a genuine center-right party.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joe Robles

    "Burn it to the ground and start over." Starts a letter to the reader printed on the back of the book jacket. Purchased the book immediately after hearing him on Why is this Happening with Chris Hayes. Literally! I finished the podcast on the way to the bookstore. Great, quick read. A masterful indictment of how the Republican party betrayed it's values for mere power. A must read for your Trump supporting uncle.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Must read Definitely a must read for everyone but particularly for Republicans. First step is to recognize you have a problem. Time to recognize we have a problem.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    Stuart Stevens is a longtime GOP operative and campaign manager who is horrified at what the party has turned into - and what that says about what the party must've been previously. For Stevens, this is a book he felt he had to write instead of wanting to write. It's him coming to terms with what he thought had been a principled conservative movement with some adjacent crazies - only to find out the crazies were the ones driving the show and anyone with principles were the adjacent. He notes all Stuart Stevens is a longtime GOP operative and campaign manager who is horrified at what the party has turned into - and what that says about what the party must've been previously. For Stevens, this is a book he felt he had to write instead of wanting to write. It's him coming to terms with what he thought had been a principled conservative movement with some adjacent crazies - only to find out the crazies were the ones driving the show and anyone with principles were the adjacent. He notes all the horrible stuff Trump does, says, and stands for - and traces it back to the time before Trump. The GOP had been playing the race card for decades before Trump. All their talk of family values was just a way to weaponize the prejudices of Christian conservatives. (He calls the Christian right as "superPAC for white America" and says that Trump is the ultimate megachurch pastor). All GOP talk on the deficit is so much BS. Tax cuts have become an ideological fixation more than an economic policy. Even the seemingly respectable Republicans dabbled in the rhetoric and ideas that Trump has pushed forward - ranging from William F. Buckley defending segregation or Bill Bennett's clearly BS belief in values. The GOP increasingly lives in its own bubble, one where they'll deny sexual harassment charges or global warming or any other factor that seems inconvenient to their bubble view. The main feature of the current GOP, he maintains, is cowardice. People are willing to say bad things about Trump behind closed doors, but not out loud. All talk of a Flight 93 election is really just a way to hide racial panic of a changing America. Stevens lists four ways a democracy can die - and the GOP is doing all four (rejects democratic rules of the game, denies the legitimacy of their opponents, tolerates/encourages violence, indicates a willingness to curtail the civil liberties of their opponents). They want to make voting harder. They're the new segegationists. He argues at the end that the current GOP is like a colonial power trying to maintain hold of a foreign land, like the old British Raj. This reminded me of what Chris Hayes has written previously. The GOP has become a party that opposes compassion, kindness, humility, and personal decency. Those are signs of weakness to the party of Trump. The GOP has surrendered any moral legitimacy, and is just a cartel; a syndicate. It's a very good overview. While most (all?) of these points have been made before, they haven't been made by a guy who managed a recent GOP presidential campaign (Mitt Romney in 2012). The source matters here. And he does a decent job pushing the argument into the past, showing that Trump wasn't an aberration, but an extension of what came before. Stevens has plenty of regrets in his part in creating this mess. Any problems? The examination is a bit piecemeal. He looks at certain areas, but it never quite comes together as one. The main theme I see in this book is racial panic by the GOP, but that point didn't seem to be made as strongly as it could've. Also, many of his chapters are often recaps of one or two other books - it's a bit of a narrow focus. For instance, a chapter on the rightwing media largely goes over points made by Nicole Hemmer's "Messengers of the Right" and his chapter on the increasing anti-democratic focus of the GOP takes its cues from "How Democracies Die." These aren't bad books to glean from, but at times it makes Stuart's work feel like a series of book reports. Overall, it's a very good book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    J.K. George

    This is a fact-filled book, written by a political veteran, one who has been "on the other side" for years. Stuart Stevens is so completely disappointed and disgusted by Donald Trump that it's overkill, but overkill by a pro. I had reached the same conclusions on my own, but the detailed and grisly list of lies and misdeeds by our President is convincing to say the least. The only thing more overwhelming is the extent that the Republican Party has knuckled under this powerful man. Apparently one This is a fact-filled book, written by a political veteran, one who has been "on the other side" for years. Stuart Stevens is so completely disappointed and disgusted by Donald Trump that it's overkill, but overkill by a pro. I had reached the same conclusions on my own, but the detailed and grisly list of lies and misdeeds by our President is convincing to say the least. The only thing more overwhelming is the extent that the Republican Party has knuckled under this powerful man. Apparently one Tweet in capital letters is enough to bring out virtual lynch mobs into the virtual streets of any primary election and doom the person who dares to part ways with Trump to eternal shunning. Will the Trump era end with a defeat to Joe Biden in November, 2020? Will Trump continue to defy political gravity and gain another four years when the polls have him well behind? Are polls accurate? Do people admit they are supporting Trump when many of their friends consider him to be somewhere off the rails? Will Trump be considered a harbinger of a new American era or a relic of a failed movement led by a mass-media mastermind into oblivion? As the President says, "we shall see." If Stevens' analysis is accurate, Donald Trump is a dangerous man and will be treated badly by historians. "We shall see."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    This was my FIL's pick for our road trip. It was a bit repetitive, and definitely contributed to the echo-chamber feel we already had in our vehicle. I don't think Mr. Stevens is wrong. I'm just not sure what to do about it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marc Gerstein

    Of all the Trump-era tell-alls, this may be the most devastating, not so much because it tells us anything new about Trump (it doesn’t), but because of all it tells us about the Republican party that sold itself to one they knew was incompetent because it served their goal of . . . and that’s the punch line: There is no goal, no plan, no set of principals other than winning for the sake of winning. According to the author, Trump did not co-opt or distort of corrupt the Republican party. Quite to Of all the Trump-era tell-alls, this may be the most devastating, not so much because it tells us anything new about Trump (it doesn’t), but because of all it tells us about the Republican party that sold itself to one they knew was incompetent because it served their goal of . . . and that’s the punch line: There is no goal, no plan, no set of principals other than winning for the sake of winning. According to the author, Trump did not co-opt or distort of corrupt the Republican party. Quite to the contrary, he is where the party has been going for decades. He’s the culmination of an evolution when the party chose to focus on being the antidote to the mid-1960s passage of the Civil Rights bill. And the author is one who knows. He was an insider who worked on and won many elections for those Republicans; one who executed their lie-based non-program.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maime

    I honestly found it shocking that many disturbing and destructive aspects of the GOP were intentional. Perhaps not by the people, but by the politicians. Enlightening and honest book by a key party insider.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This isn't a book of insider secrets. It's an insider's perspective that confirms the worst suspicions about the Republican Party and the shameless moral train wreck dumpster fire disaster it has become—and has become in full public view without any sense of shame. As the Democratic Party moves further left, this book makes clear that there is no place in current politics for center-right thinkers. Fact-checking this book must have been easy, since most everything Stevens is saying is observable This isn't a book of insider secrets. It's an insider's perspective that confirms the worst suspicions about the Republican Party and the shameless moral train wreck dumpster fire disaster it has become—and has become in full public view without any sense of shame. As the Democratic Party moves further left, this book makes clear that there is no place in current politics for center-right thinkers. Fact-checking this book must have been easy, since most everything Stevens is saying is observable by anyone even passively paying attention to current events. I doubt Republicans will make any attempt to refute this book, but rather attempt to paint Stevens as a disgruntled individual and distance themselves from him—even though he is one of the most successful contemporary Republican strategists responsible for winning elections for some of the most prominent Republicans in the paste several decades.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    I read this book purely for the cathartic value. I also admire how fully Stuart Stevens is broadcasting his own complicity in this lie. In writing this book Stuart is actually embodying the value of personal responsibility - remember that one? He's really doing the hard work of facing up to what he has done. Good for him. I'm only rating this three stars because I was admittedly reading it for the express purpose of confirming my priors, and I suspect most other readers would as well - it's just I read this book purely for the cathartic value. I also admire how fully Stuart Stevens is broadcasting his own complicity in this lie. In writing this book Stuart is actually embodying the value of personal responsibility - remember that one? He's really doing the hard work of facing up to what he has done. Good for him. I'm only rating this three stars because I was admittedly reading it for the express purpose of confirming my priors, and I suspect most other readers would as well - it's just a guilty pleasure. I would recommend listening to the interview with Stevens on the Ezra Klein show, where he covers most of the high points of the book. "How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy, and the national debt in a matter of months? You don’t. The obvious answer is those beliefs weren’t deeply held. In the end, the Republican Party rallied behind Donald Trump because if that was the deal needed to regain power, what was the problem? Because it had always been about power. The rest? The principles? The values? It was all a lie."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Probably not much here that I didn’t already know, but somehow I still feel simultaneously pissed off and vindicated. This will no doubt go down as the most highlighted book in my Goodreads history. Everyone should read this—Democrat, Republican, and unaffiliated. Democrats will nod their heads. Republicans may be shocked at all the lies they have been told and believed over the years. Maybe not. And unaffiliateds will hopefully see that, no, both parties are not “the same.” I give a lot of cred Probably not much here that I didn’t already know, but somehow I still feel simultaneously pissed off and vindicated. This will no doubt go down as the most highlighted book in my Goodreads history. Everyone should read this—Democrat, Republican, and unaffiliated. Democrats will nod their heads. Republicans may be shocked at all the lies they have been told and believed over the years. Maybe not. And unaffiliateds will hopefully see that, no, both parties are not “the same.” I give a lot of credit to Stevens for writing this book. It took a lot of courage.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mikey

    Have you ever met a born again Christian with a past full of drugs and sex and rock and roll; and then they have a "come-to-Jesus" moment where are they see embarrassed errors of their ways and change their life for God. This book is the Republican equivalent of that and points out how Trump is the result of all the hypocrisy and lies from the past 50 years of the GOP. this book could have been titled: Confessions of a Republican Sinner. Trump supporters won't read this book (because they can't rea Have you ever met a born again Christian with a past full of drugs and sex and rock and roll; and then they have a "come-to-Jesus" moment where are they see embarrassed errors of their ways and change their life for God. This book is the Republican equivalent of that and points out how Trump is the result of all the hypocrisy and lies from the past 50 years of the GOP. this book could have been titled: Confessions of a Republican Sinner. Trump supporters won't read this book (because they can't read); the true Republicans will appreciate the tough love and hopefully open their eyes 2 how the party has really divided this nation. Fascinating book. Easy to read in about a one night.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Fuller

    4.5 A searing indictment of the current Republican Party under Donald Trump. He chronicles how the GOP got to where it is today, by looking at its history from the 80s to today. And what you come away with, is party built on racism, hypocrisy, owning a narrative without policy or a record and winning. Really, winning, without a shred of anything more. There were times I forgot he was a former GOP operative, he was so exacting in his indictment. But, he’s a conservative still, a conservative witho 4.5 A searing indictment of the current Republican Party under Donald Trump. He chronicles how the GOP got to where it is today, by looking at its history from the 80s to today. And what you come away with, is party built on racism, hypocrisy, owning a narrative without policy or a record and winning. Really, winning, without a shred of anything more. There were times I forgot he was a former GOP operative, he was so exacting in his indictment. But, he’s a conservative still, a conservative without a party. He viewed the GOP as center right, but like many GOP got caught up in winning over all. There’s nothing too surprising in this, if you’ve been paying attention to politics, but this takes on a different slant because of who the author is and his vast knowledge of those operatives and politicians he’d worked with and know, personally, how terrible they are. He even apologizes on occasion for how successful he was in getting terrible people into positions of power. Quite the interesting, if not depressing, read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Sawyer

    What is truly impressive is how Stevens never harkens back to a “golden age” of the conservative movement. He shows how it has all been a lie from the start. He is no less self-critical of himself for falling for the noble window-dressing of honor and integrity; he excused the evidence of his own eyes because it was fun to win elections. For too long he assumed the ugliness that popped out into the open was an aberration. The candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump forced him to recognize that What is truly impressive is how Stevens never harkens back to a “golden age” of the conservative movement. He shows how it has all been a lie from the start. He is no less self-critical of himself for falling for the noble window-dressing of honor and integrity; he excused the evidence of his own eyes because it was fun to win elections. For too long he assumed the ugliness that popped out into the open was an aberration. The candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump forced him to recognize that no, this is what the conservative movement has always been. From a literary standpoint this is a great read. The insider’s point-of-view and the stories to which that POV gives rise keeps you turning the pages. I would almost describe this as a more in-the-trenches and more accessible companion to Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy In Chains”. Both make clear that conservatism, if it is to make a meaningful contribution to effective governance, must first recognize that liberals share their love of integrity and decency, and second, at long last, it must embrace the democratic principles that it has fought for so long.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ann J

    Really enjoyed this book. Put it on the want to read list because I heard Stevens speak on the Lincoln Project podcast, and he had real insight into the demise of the Republican Party as a whole, and freely and unflinchingly talked about the ways the work he did contributed. Pretty rare these days to hear someone talk about how they did wrong. I thought it would be more about current events, but much more it was a kind of civics lesson from a Repub insider, with the benefit of hindsight.

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