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The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat

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Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, spent years in the party’s inner circle. In this no-holds-barred memoir, he shows why he switched sides and became a Democrat. After serving as a Republican governor—one who was on the short list for the vice presidency in 2008—Charlie Crist made headlines when he decided to run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent. Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, spent years in the party’s inner circle. In this no-holds-barred memoir, he shows why he switched sides and became a Democrat. After serving as a Republican governor—one who was on the short list for the vice presidency in 2008—Charlie Crist made headlines when he decided to run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent. He was on the front page again when he endorsed President Obama in 2012 and spoke at the Democratic National Convention—and yet again when he officially joined the Democratic Party later that year. In The Party’s Over, he’ll make even more news when he reveals: The inside story of his 2010 Senate primary campaign against Marco Rubio, where he learned exactly how vicious the Republican leadership can be. His journey from inner circle to persona non grata, thanks to his literal embrace of President Obama. His very frank opinions on Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and other top-tier Republicans. Why he believes that Democrats have the right vision for Florida and the nation. • What he’s learned as a member of both parties and why he remains convinced that the two-party system can still work—with the right leadership. Rather than just rehashing his career, in this book Crist offers a focused indictment of the failings of the Republican Party, naming names and identifying where things went wrong. The Party’s Over is as far from “politics as usual” as you can get.


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Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, spent years in the party’s inner circle. In this no-holds-barred memoir, he shows why he switched sides and became a Democrat. After serving as a Republican governor—one who was on the short list for the vice presidency in 2008—Charlie Crist made headlines when he decided to run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent. Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida, spent years in the party’s inner circle. In this no-holds-barred memoir, he shows why he switched sides and became a Democrat. After serving as a Republican governor—one who was on the short list for the vice presidency in 2008—Charlie Crist made headlines when he decided to run for the U.S. Senate as an Independent. He was on the front page again when he endorsed President Obama in 2012 and spoke at the Democratic National Convention—and yet again when he officially joined the Democratic Party later that year. In The Party’s Over, he’ll make even more news when he reveals: The inside story of his 2010 Senate primary campaign against Marco Rubio, where he learned exactly how vicious the Republican leadership can be. His journey from inner circle to persona non grata, thanks to his literal embrace of President Obama. His very frank opinions on Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and other top-tier Republicans. Why he believes that Democrats have the right vision for Florida and the nation. • What he’s learned as a member of both parties and why he remains convinced that the two-party system can still work—with the right leadership. Rather than just rehashing his career, in this book Crist offers a focused indictment of the failings of the Republican Party, naming names and identifying where things went wrong. The Party’s Over is as far from “politics as usual” as you can get.

30 review for The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat

  1. 4 out of 5

    John

    I came away feeling that his motivation in writing the book had to do with convincing wary Florida Democrats that he's really one of them now, rather than an opportunist; he did convince me that he's sincere, if not rather naive, perhaps.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    A great political read. Shows just how far out the Republican party has gone- it is disturbing and disgusts me. I am happy to know there are politicians out there like Mr. Crist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Very good read. Helps to explain how badly US politics has been derailed in recent years.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Leaving the Republican Party was an act not without precedent. Others had done it before. Lowell Weicker, Lincoln Chaffee and Arlen Specter are among the more notable figures in American politics who bailed out of the GOP. Former Florida governor Charlie Crist joined them on April 29, 2010. As this biography documents, the silver-haired Crist made his dramatic departure in stages, initially converting to an independent and then more than two-and-a-half years later, embracing the Democratic Party Leaving the Republican Party was an act not without precedent. Others had done it before. Lowell Weicker, Lincoln Chaffee and Arlen Specter are among the more notable figures in American politics who bailed out of the GOP. Former Florida governor Charlie Crist joined them on April 29, 2010. As this biography documents, the silver-haired Crist made his dramatic departure in stages, initially converting to an independent and then more than two-and-a-half years later, embracing the Democratic Party. With the help of Newsday columnist and TV commentator Ellis Henican, here Crist details a number of interesting factoids about himself that describe his personality and politics: “I hated to argue. I still do.” As a boy, Crist’s mother was told he was “too nice to be a politician. I’m not an angry person. It’s just not who I am. I was never the rigid party guy.” Even more telling are some of Crist’s takes on the hot-button political issues that just won’t go away. For example, Crist would not outlaw abortion but still says he’s “personally pro-life.” (Page 71.) (He’d rather change hearts than laws.) “I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy. That’s how I am.” That principle apparently doesn’t apply to the physical life of the unborn child a mother carries in her womb. Under Crist’s “pro-life” policy, that child has no right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness others of us enjoy outside the womb. The mother’s life trumps her baby’s life. Crist “generally doesn’t like the government telling people what to do.” On page 46 he states, “I believe in individual rights and freedom.” And yet, in this political journal, Crist apparently celebrates the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which initially took away everyone’s freedom to have or not have their own health insurance plan. On page 71, in reference to the Terri Schiavo case, Crist decries “the perils of government reaching into places it had no business being.” How does the former “People’s Governor” square that with NSA spying on American citizens’ cell-phones and e-mails? What would Crist call IRS targeting and harassing American patriot groups seeking tax-free status? And, Charlie, what about the Obama administration's recent plan, (since put on hold temporarily and subject to reinstatement), to put federal monitors in all the newsrooms. A clear violation of the First Amendment. Is that not a “government reaching into places it had no business being?” In discussing the USA’s “new political environment,” on page 253, Crist noted that “attacking the Democratic president was the (Republican Party’s) default position whenever anything went wrong.” Yet earlier, Crist and Henican blast President George W. Bush for the way Hurricane Katrina was handled. For the first five years of the Obama administration, whenever anything went wrong, hasn’t Bush-bashing been the default position for the Democratic Party? It works both ways, Charlie. Even Crist gets to pile it on. He reminds us, “It was George W. Bush who had bailed out the banks and laid the groundwork” for Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus plan. “I can work across the aisle.” That’s a favorite expression of politicians on both sides of the aisle who call themselves moderate. Over and over again in “The Party’s Over,” Crist calls the current version of the Republican Party “divisive, intolerant, mean, narrower, more rigid, less generous, more extreme, the forces of intolerance and extremism, angry loudmouths.” Consider Crist’s take on his former party and recent statements by Democratic celebrities such as Senator Harry Reid, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean. For example, Reid believes all those who claim the devastating loss of health insurance under the ACA are making up horror stories. Name calling, fear mongering, mud throwing is not unique to the Republican Party, Mister Crist. President Obama recently documented what we already knew. He governs by fiat. He doesn’t need the Congress to make laws. He will do it for them. He himself reportedly stated, “I have a phone and I have a pen.” In other words, that’s all the equipment he needs to “fundamentally transform the USA.” How’s that for “working across the aisle?” On page 336, Crist summarizes why he bailed out of the Republican Party four years ago. Crist says, “The forces of intolerance and extremism, fueled by the passion of the Tea Party and funded by a tiny knot of super-rich guys, had taken too strong a grip on the party I’d grown up in.” Okay, Charlie. Where would you put passionate groups like “Move On.org” and Planned Parenthood? The UAW? The AFL-CIO? The AARP? How are those forces on the left any different than the Tea Party in terms of influence? Okay, Charlie. Conservative groups have the financial backing of the Koch brothers. Where would you put “super-rich guy” George Soros? It works both ways, Charlie. Well, on page 341 we learn why Crist had to write this book. Crist is now “off on another great journey.” He’s seeking to make a political comeback in 2014 as the next Florida governor. This time as a Democrat. I’m guessing he’ll be passing out copies of “The Party’s Over” at campaign rallies along the trail. This should be a must read for anyone who wants to find out what’s inside the mind of someone who doesn’t have a clue about the true mission of the Tea Party. Someone like Charlie Crist who makes no reference to protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution. He can only ask repeatedly, what does the Tea Party mean when they promise to take this country back? Crist just doesn’t get it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I wish there were more public officials like Charlie Crist.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Lee

    I picked this up because I sometimes allow myself the guilty pleasure of reading about how very wrong and stupid people I don't like are. (This is why, for instance, I often pick up books about homoepathy and other comically bizarre pseudoscience. I already know how dumb they are, but it's so nice to hear someone else agreeing with me.) This book, unfortunately, was disappointing on every level. Crist was pretty clearly a moderate politician all along, either a liberal Republican or a conservativ I picked this up because I sometimes allow myself the guilty pleasure of reading about how very wrong and stupid people I don't like are. (This is why, for instance, I often pick up books about homoepathy and other comically bizarre pseudoscience. I already know how dumb they are, but it's so nice to hear someone else agreeing with me.) This book, unfortunately, was disappointing on every level. Crist was pretty clearly a moderate politician all along, either a liberal Republican or a conservative Democrat, so it's not like we get a fun conversion story (and aren't those pleasant to read, how the scales fell from someone's eyes and they suddenly saw how correct you were all this time?) Despite close relations with various Bushes, a couple of McCains, and even the Dread Palin, he has no particularly juicy or interesting gossip (or if he does, he's keeping it to himself because he's not an idiot and is fully intending to return to politics someday without dancing around the light of his burning bridges). He's also blissfully unaware of himself, filling entire chapters with empty vaguely patriotic pablum, then quoting someone else's pablum and sneering at how empty and vaguely patriotic it is. His ghost writer should frankly be drug out into the street and smacked with a subordinate clause; the book reads far more like the rambling, self-aggrandizing meander of a career politician than any sort of concise narrative, and several anecdotes (and obvious pet phrases) are repeated two or even three times in the course of the book. Basically, this is a lackluster effort to check the box of "have a recently published book" to justify appearing on talk shows in order to generate excitement and name-recognition for the inevitable announcement of a new run for office. I read the whole load of cotton-candy puffery in one sitting, and felt just as ill afterward as one would expect from real cotton candy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Hilts

    As far as memoirs go, this one is pretty pointless. It can be summed up in a couple of sentences: "I think I'm a pretty great guy," and "I didn't leave the GOP; the GOP left me." This simplification might be a bit unfair, but not too far off the mark. The book reads like a résumé cover letter, listing his accomplishments, his good qualities (only the good ones), and little else. There's no soul searching, no reflection on mistakes, no real discussion of how his values have evolved. There is some As far as memoirs go, this one is pretty pointless. It can be summed up in a couple of sentences: "I think I'm a pretty great guy," and "I didn't leave the GOP; the GOP left me." This simplification might be a bit unfair, but not too far off the mark. The book reads like a résumé cover letter, listing his accomplishments, his good qualities (only the good ones), and little else. There's no soul searching, no reflection on mistakes, no real discussion of how his values have evolved. There is some value in the book in illustrating what is happening to the Republican party. The tea-bagger faction wiped out the liberal faction, once made up of folks like Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Weld, Christie Whitman, Dan Evans, etc. Then they went after moderates like Arlen Spector, Charlie Crist, and Olympia Snow. Now they're even turning on those in the far right wing of the party, like John McCain and Mitch McConnell when they show any signs of being willing to compromise with others, or have the audacity not to echo their most ridiculous claims. If there is one group of people who would really benefit from reading this book it would be that GOP faction. It might give them pause and make them consider if a bit of compromise, making room for a diversity of opinions, would be a better long-term strategy for growing the party as a whole and thus achieving more of their goals. I find a bit of comfort in the fact that this is unlikely to happen.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kobryn

    A book I bought after hearing Charlie Crist interviewed in the Bill Maher Real Time show, this was of interest to me on a number of fronts, the American political scene as well as my interest in Florida visiting there each summer. This book is a review, part explanation of how a lifelong Republican elected Governor of Florida ended up leaving the Republican Party, campaigning as an Independent and then joining the Democratic Party to campaign for the Governorship again in 2014. Crist comes acros A book I bought after hearing Charlie Crist interviewed in the Bill Maher Real Time show, this was of interest to me on a number of fronts, the American political scene as well as my interest in Florida visiting there each summer. This book is a review, part explanation of how a lifelong Republican elected Governor of Florida ended up leaving the Republican Party, campaigning as an Independent and then joining the Democratic Party to campaign for the Governorship again in 2014. Crist comes across as a genuinely collaborative politician who was swept aside by the aggressive tone of the Tea Party’s grip on the Republican Party following the election of President Obama in 2008. Despite this clearly being a politicians book, by which I mean there was a hint of self justification throughout, I warmed to the author and was prepared to take on face value the details of his travails that he documented. By his own account the way in which he discharged his duties as Governor would have attracted my vote, though I would have been interested to hear more why he was prepared to relinquish the Governorship to seek Senate office when the office of Governor seemed to offer much greater opportunity to positively affect people’s lives, particularly in Florida to which he seems so attached. An interesting book covering a troubled and troubling time in American politics and an insight into the workings of the Tea Party from one who appears to be a human politician.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megargee

    If you live in Florida, you have probably heard this joke that is making the rounds: A Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat go into a bar. The bartender looks up and asks, "What will you have, Charlie?" Yes, former Florida Republican Governor and Independent candidate Charlie Crist is back as a Democrat seeking the nomination for Governor to oppose incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott's bid for reelection. This book is basically a campaign biography with the added goal of explaining h If you live in Florida, you have probably heard this joke that is making the rounds: A Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat go into a bar. The bartender looks up and asks, "What will you have, Charlie?" Yes, former Florida Republican Governor and Independent candidate Charlie Crist is back as a Democrat seeking the nomination for Governor to oppose incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott's bid for reelection. This book is basically a campaign biography with the added goal of explaining how, as Governor from 2007 - 2011, Crist so alienated the far right "Tea Party" wing of the GOP that he felt he had to leave the party to run for the US Senate as an Independent. As with any campaign book, Crist's account is self serving but nonetheless interesting. It suffers from the lack of an index that would assist the reader in checking specific issues and Crist's relations with certain individuals. At $26.95, the publishers could have afforded to include some photographs as well, especially the "infamous" photo, his so-called embrace of Obama, that Crist states cost him his career. 2016 update: Having failed in his gubernatorial bid, Crist is now running for Congress as a Democrat.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As a Florida resident I decided to read it since most likely he will be our next governor. (Scott is running for reelection but he is a do-nothing guv and his ratings are in the toilet so doesn't look good for him.) Yes, Crist is somewhat of an opportunist but FL is such a good-ole-boy state full of Repubs so I can't fault him for being a Repub. At least he has the intelligence to figure out that the party does not represent him anymore and he switched his affiliation. I will help get him elected As a Florida resident I decided to read it since most likely he will be our next governor. (Scott is running for reelection but he is a do-nothing guv and his ratings are in the toilet so doesn't look good for him.) Yes, Crist is somewhat of an opportunist but FL is such a good-ole-boy state full of Repubs so I can't fault him for being a Repub. At least he has the intelligence to figure out that the party does not represent him anymore and he switched his affiliation. I will help get him elected. He seems like an honest hard-working guy. He will have his work cut out for him with the hard-right members of the FL legislature and the entrenched culture of corruption. (He knows all about it from already serving as guv.) Now if we could just get the waterways cleaned and get Big Sugar out of business!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robb

    Very insightful and persuaded me to vote for Charlie Crist in 2014. I left Florida in 2005 before Charlie Crist was elected governor. I returned last year in 2013 and have to say I see what republican governor Rick Scott has done and I shake my head and wonder who was unwise enough to elect this obtuse man determined to destroy Florida. Governor Scott is as bad as any republican tea party rebel and is determined to stop any progress at any cost. He is so incompetent that I wonder why people can't Very insightful and persuaded me to vote for Charlie Crist in 2014. I left Florida in 2005 before Charlie Crist was elected governor. I returned last year in 2013 and have to say I see what republican governor Rick Scott has done and I shake my head and wonder who was unwise enough to elect this obtuse man determined to destroy Florida. Governor Scott is as bad as any republican tea party rebel and is determined to stop any progress at any cost. He is so incompetent that I wonder why people can't see the harm he has caused Floridians . I hope people here in Florida get a dose of common sense and oust this obstructionist man from power. Charlie Crist earns my vote and inspires me to hope for a progressive Florida.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    Charlie Crist is one of the politicians that I have the most respect for. Like Crist, I was a long time Republican, only to have a band of crazy extremists hijack the party that I'd grown up in. I'm proud that Charlie Crist will get the opportunity to continue his public service in the U.S. House of Representatives where he will serve with the honor and integrity he has shown as a public servant his whole life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    Loved it! Wish California could lure Mr. Crist here. Not only are he and his co/author good collaborators, but it's fast moving, full of insider information and an inside look at the nonsense that goes on including obstructionism in our government. Thanks to these two men, I have learned alot, and I will be more concerned and get more informed via C-Span on a regular basis. THANK YOU CHARLIE!! AND KEEP WRITING MORE GOOD STUFF...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Connie Pollock

    Very enlightening book from a former Republican turned Democrat. The word "loony" seems to be what the party has turned into, according to Crist. The fact that his career ended because of hugging Obama? Is insane. Political parties have become so divided, you don't even want to admit what side you vote for because of people's reactions.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Predictably positive political auto-biographical account that he personally narrates in the audiobook. His honest, moderate conservatism views, work ethic and Greek-Cypriot/Irish background make for a civically conscious and likable story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim Blessing

    This was an interesting read about Charlie Crist, the former Florida Republican Governor, who switched parties after becoming a target of the Tea Party.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I found Charlie's analysis of the GOP very iteresting. It is refreshing to hear it from a former insider.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linda Brown

    A very interesting book about political leadership. And, how an elected official should think for oneself. And work for "the people" and not buy into party politics.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Too self-serving. I get it that he changed parties and why and applaud him for doing so, but way too much "I'm wonderful" to really be a book of value.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alex Docobo

    Good overall but corny at times.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Koonce

    What a terrific book! Crist's honorable personality comes through quite clearly in this book. A great look into the shift of the Republican party to a Tea-Party controlled reactionary party.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Whether you're a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, or something else, this book is a must-read. Moderation in all things, after all...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aliya DalRae

    I wish I lived in Florida so I could vote for this man. Finally somebody who really gets it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    helped me learn more about Charlie Crist

  25. 4 out of 5

    Spirit Storm

  26. 5 out of 5

    Terri Johnson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  28. 4 out of 5

    Denise Pratt

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  30. 5 out of 5

    James Sykes

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