The conspiracy to end America Five ways my old party is driving our democracy to autocracy

Stuart Stevens

Book - 2023

A former chief Republican strategist and best-selling author examines the five driving forces on the Right--financers, propagandists, party support, legal theories to legitimize and shock troops--and makes clear how they are working in concert to end our democracy as we know it.

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  • Introduction: The Conspiracy to End America
  • Chapter 1. The Propagandists
  • Chapter 2. The Support of the Party
  • Chapter 3. The Financers
  • Chapter 4. The Legal Theories
  • Chapter 5. The Shock Troops
  • Afterword: Driving Toward Autocracy
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

Stevens (It Was All a Lie, 2020), a former Republican strategist and campaign manager, writes urgently about the danger to American democracy posed by his former political party. The GOP has ceased to be a responsible governing organization, Stevens argues, and seems to have rejected the most basic tenet of a functioning democracy, the ability to accept losing elections. Using his extensive insider knowledge and experience and drawing from scholars of authoritarianism and right-wing extremism, Stevens discusses the five building blocks of autocracy. These are propagandists, wide support within a major party, financial backers, legal theorizing to legitimize their actions, and the shock troops willing to use violence to get their way. Most striking of his findings is how much older and more successful the Capitol insurrectionists were than average extremists. Stevens documents that each component in the conspiracy to undermine democracy is on the rise. This cautionary study makes it plain that so-called "Trumpism" will survive its namesake since those five pillars have been building for decades, and this movement no longer needs the former president as its figurehead.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A former Republican strategist decries a party that has gone off the rails and plunged into totalitarianism. According to Lincoln Project senior adviser Stevens, the author of It Was All a Lie, five ingredients fuel "an autocratic movement masquerading as a political party." These five, in order, are propaganda and its makers; a party willing to be twisted; piles of money and willing suppliers of it; legal theorists willing to distort the law; and a body of shock troops. No one surveying the political landscape would doubt that these five threads are broadly present in the Republican mix. On the first count, the author argues that Fox News did not create the current Republican Party--it was the other way around, with Fox propagandizing in the interest of the authoritarians, among its chief cheerleaders the now-departed Tucker Carlson and Lou Dobbs. The GOP also enabled Trump by responding to his false claims of election fraud by "humoring him" rather than insisting that he honor constitutional norms. It does no good to "imagine that there is a possibility for the Republican Party to become a 'normal' American political party once again"--not with the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Josh Hawley roaming the land. Oceans of money are behind this authoritarian impulse, since the doctrinaire insistence on doing away with regulations is music to a capitalist's ears. The Koch brothers' political staffers alone, Stevens notes, number "three and a half times more employees than the Republican National Committee." Crank lawyers and judges are busily eroding legal norms, and then there are the perpetrators and supporters of the events of Jan. 6--who, Stevens suggests without undue alarmism, will be back in even greater numbers come the next election. It all makes for a civil libertarian's nightmare, but the author offers useful prescriptions for acting to counter the authoritarian impulse. A rallying cry for a movement to push against Trumpism and its legion of true believers. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.