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The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard, and with Donald Trump’s ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard, and with Donald Trump’s ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, and a legion of business-friendly federal judges? Does the GOP represent “forgotten” Americans? Or does it represent the superrich? In Let Them Eat Tweets, best-selling political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson offer a definitive answer: The Republican Party serves its plutocratic masters to a degree without precedent in modern global history. Conservative parties, by their nature, almost always side with the rich, but when faced with popular resistance, they usually make concessions, allowing some policies that benefit the working and middle classes. After all, how can a political party maintain power in a democracy if it serves only the interests of a narrow and wealthy slice of society? Today’s Republicans have shown the way, doubling down on a truly radical, elite-benefiting economic agenda while at the same time making increasingly incendiary racial and cultural appeals to their almost entirely white base. Telling a forty-year story, Hacker and Pierson demonstrate that since the early 1980s, when inequality started spiking, extreme tax cutting, union busting, and deregulation have gone hand in hand with extreme race-baiting, outrage stoking, and disinformation. Instead of responding to the real challenges facing voters, the Republican Party offers division and distraction—most prominently, in the racist, nativist bile of President Trump's Twitter feed. As Hacker and Pierson argue, Trump isn’t a break with the GOP’s recent past. On the contrary, he embodies its tightening embrace of plutocracy and right-wing extremism—a dynamic Hacker and Pierson call “plutocratic populism.” As Trump and his far-right allies spew hatred and lies, Republicans in Congress and in statehouses attack social programs and funnel more and more money to the top 0.1 percent of Americans. Far from being at war with each other, reactionary plutocrats and right-wing populists have become the two faces of a party that now actively undermines democracy to achieve its goals against the will of the majority of Americans. Drawing on decades of research, Hacker and Pierson authoritatively explain the doom loop of tax cutting and fearmongering that characterizes our era—and reveal how we can fight back.


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The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard, and with Donald Trump’s ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, The Republican Party appears to be divided between a tax-cutting old guard and a white-nationalist vanguard, and with Donald Trump’s ascendance, the upstarts seem to be winning. Yet how are we to explain that, under Trump, the plutocrats have gotten almost everything they want, including a huge tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, regulation-killing executive actions, and a legion of business-friendly federal judges? Does the GOP represent “forgotten” Americans? Or does it represent the superrich? In Let Them Eat Tweets, best-selling political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson offer a definitive answer: The Republican Party serves its plutocratic masters to a degree without precedent in modern global history. Conservative parties, by their nature, almost always side with the rich, but when faced with popular resistance, they usually make concessions, allowing some policies that benefit the working and middle classes. After all, how can a political party maintain power in a democracy if it serves only the interests of a narrow and wealthy slice of society? Today’s Republicans have shown the way, doubling down on a truly radical, elite-benefiting economic agenda while at the same time making increasingly incendiary racial and cultural appeals to their almost entirely white base. Telling a forty-year story, Hacker and Pierson demonstrate that since the early 1980s, when inequality started spiking, extreme tax cutting, union busting, and deregulation have gone hand in hand with extreme race-baiting, outrage stoking, and disinformation. Instead of responding to the real challenges facing voters, the Republican Party offers division and distraction—most prominently, in the racist, nativist bile of President Trump's Twitter feed. As Hacker and Pierson argue, Trump isn’t a break with the GOP’s recent past. On the contrary, he embodies its tightening embrace of plutocracy and right-wing extremism—a dynamic Hacker and Pierson call “plutocratic populism.” As Trump and his far-right allies spew hatred and lies, Republicans in Congress and in statehouses attack social programs and funnel more and more money to the top 0.1 percent of Americans. Far from being at war with each other, reactionary plutocrats and right-wing populists have become the two faces of a party that now actively undermines democracy to achieve its goals against the will of the majority of Americans. Drawing on decades of research, Hacker and Pierson authoritatively explain the doom loop of tax cutting and fearmongering that characterizes our era—and reveal how we can fight back.

30 review for Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    5 stars for the title itself--so good. I loved Hacker and Pierson's American Amnesia and this one is a short follow-up. It doesn't have the depth of analysis that the first did, but it shows how the GOP has put together a coalition of voters to uphold the interests of the plutocracy. For those who need to be convinced of this theory, they'll probably need more than this thin volume, but if you've already been following the history of the modern right, this book will fill in some of the details.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Let Them Eat Tweets Let Them Eat Tweets begins with the following disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT DONALD TRUMP. It isn't. The book fits more into the genre: Why do people vote against their economic self-interest? It focuses is on the historical shifts in the Republican Party that lay the groundwork for Trump's rise and the tactics the party uses to maintain power and manipulate its base. Political Scientist professors Jacob Hacker (Yale), and Paul Pierson (UC Berkeley) argue that the rise i Let Them Eat Tweets Let Them Eat Tweets begins with the following disclaimer: THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT DONALD TRUMP. It isn't. The book fits more into the genre: Why do people vote against their economic self-interest? It focuses is on the historical shifts in the Republican Party that lay the groundwork for Trump's rise and the tactics the party uses to maintain power and manipulate its base. Political Scientist professors Jacob Hacker (Yale), and Paul Pierson (UC Berkeley) argue that the rise in extreme inequality that plagues the US today has led to a plutocratic Republican government that's goal is to increase the entrenched wealth and power of the superrich. They believe that plutocracy is the Republican's response to the "conservative dilemma – the tension generated by a commitment to economic elites and an expanding electorate." Historically conservative parties have either made economic concessions or have invoked cultural issues to divert attention and create a populist base. These issues have included: a call to nationalism in the form of war or other military ventures, sectional loyalties, racially-based opposition to immigration, racial or religious polarization, anything that creates a sense of them and us. Divisive tactics can lead to a breakdown in democratic practice. If plutocrats feel threatened, they may engage in undemocratic practices to maintain power. Plutocrats have used gerrymandering, voter suppression, manipulation and intimidation of media, election fraud, and violence to maintain control. Hacker and Pierson claim that Trump et al. have resorted to stoking racial fears to harness its base while passing significant tax cuts for the superrich and corporations and amassing substantial government deficits. They also document the Republicans' assault on numerous environmental, consumer, labor, and financial protections to maximize corporate profit. Each chapter documents the changes in the nation and the Republican Party from the 1980s to the present. Hacker and Pierson do an excellent job synthesizing relevant research that examines: the evolving concentration of wealth, the change within the Republican party from mainstream conservative to far-right, the influence of donations, the history of racial dog whistles from Willy Horton to the present and the building and financing of a right-wing infrastructure that includes the NRA, Right-Wing Media and think tanks and Evangelical Christian movements. The authors also document the current party's willingness to engage in undemocratic practice to maintain power. Let Them Eat Tweets is a thoroughly researched and frightening indictment of the world we now inhabit. I highly recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A succinct, if repetitive, look at the strangeness of America’s political moment, dominated by what the co-authors call plutocratic populism, a system in which the Republican establishment pairs unpopular austerity policies with nativist, racist appeals to an ever-shrinking white base. The book considers how conservative elites in Western societies have maintained minority rule across the centuries, and marvels at the fact they’ve allowed for so few concessions in America over the past four deca A succinct, if repetitive, look at the strangeness of America’s political moment, dominated by what the co-authors call plutocratic populism, a system in which the Republican establishment pairs unpopular austerity policies with nativist, racist appeals to an ever-shrinking white base. The book considers how conservative elites in Western societies have maintained minority rule across the centuries, and marvels at the fact they’ve allowed for so few concessions in America over the past four decades while still maintaining tight control over the government. The analysis can be shallow and short on solutions, but raises some interesting points.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    I received my undergraduate degree in English and political science, so I’m pretty much a policy wonk and a student of political history. Even so, authors Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson taught me so much in Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality. Other books have detailed how we got to this dystopian moment where we have 123,000 preventable deaths — and counting! — and face an economic downtown that could surpass that the Great Depression. What Hacker and Pier I received my undergraduate degree in English and political science, so I’m pretty much a policy wonk and a student of political history. Even so, authors Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson taught me so much in Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality. Other books have detailed how we got to this dystopian moment where we have 123,000 preventable deaths — and counting! — and face an economic downtown that could surpass that the Great Depression. What Hacker and Pierson lay out in this meticulously researched book is that the racism isn’t a bug, but a feature, connecting Trumpism with other far-right, authoritarian movements back more than a century. Hacker and Pierson also draw attention to the “off ramps” that the Republican Party declined to take that pushed it farther and farther into thralldom to the 0.1% and their extremely unpopular positions. The message is that extreme inequality requires moderation if democracy is to survive; however, time and again, plutocrats have poured money into divisive racist and anti-Semitic campaigns to replace democracy with authoritarianism in order to keep power and extreme wealth. Even if you’ve read Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right and Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future, Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality is an absolute must-read in these dangerous times! In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and W.W. Norton & Co. in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rick Wilson

    Installment number 523,978 In the collective liberal lament at how bad the world is and how unfair it is. This book engages regularly in what I’m going to call in “appeal to democracy“ where the author states some thing that the “conservatives“or “Republicans“ are doing and then says that it threatens democracy. Whether it actually threatens democracy or not is irrelevant, As with many lazy rhetorical devices, the fact that it was said by the author is sufficient proof. It also provides a suffic Installment number 523,978 In the collective liberal lament at how bad the world is and how unfair it is. This book engages regularly in what I’m going to call in “appeal to democracy“ where the author states some thing that the “conservatives“or “Republicans“ are doing and then says that it threatens democracy. Whether it actually threatens democracy or not is irrelevant, As with many lazy rhetorical devices, the fact that it was said by the author is sufficient proof. It also provides a sufficient bogeyman to write against. Without being too pedantic, I’ve always gotten a chuckle out of the actual labels of our two American parties. Democrats appeal to democracy, something that the United States is not and has never been. It’s a beautiful idea, representing a hopeful future or idealistic ultimate. Republicans on the other hand speak to what is and what has been, the little republic that could. Pragmatic to their core, the noblest I deal of Republicans for so long, pre-Reagan, where to be the practical adults in the room. The Sandra Day O’Connor Republicans are in ethos I definitely agree with. Now these books contention is that we’ve moved away from those ideals. Anyone with half a working eyeball and a third of a working brain cell would probably agree. But their reasoning as to the causes likely differ a wildly. “Big scary corporate money” (TM), has resulted in a “populist plutocracy.” A fine contention if there were any evidence in this book to back it up. The problem with this book is that it’s just hackey. The author claims that income inequality in United States is the largest in the world, but apparently is never heard of South America, or Africa, or Asia. Tellingly enough the “whole” world involves Europe and North America. Possibly Antarctica I’m not sure how the income inequality is there. Not a lot of hard-hitting income studies coming out of the Antarctic Economic Forum. Essentially the author ignores a lot of facts and creates what is a several hundred page opEd about how tough it is to be a well educated liberal. Done well I think this book is a banger. I’m practically giddy with excitement to read Thomas Piketty‘s Capital and Ideology at some point in the next five years. But this book ain’t it. So after grossly miss characterizing several fundamental assumptions about the world and how it works the author proceeds to come to emotional conclusions about how bad things are and “OMG isn’t it terrible” I don’t actually know because I stopped reading. Life is too short to bother with this. There was a beautiful sunset tonight. I spent some time paying attention to that instead.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    The question that is really in need of an answer is exactly how the right has risen to power over the last four decades and how and why the right continues to be a dominant political force, despite advancing what should otherwise be very unpopular economic policies. This book provides one of the best and most concise answers to that question that I’ve come across. The answer, as the authors explain, is fairly straightforward. It begins with a question philosophers and statesmen have been asking The question that is really in need of an answer is exactly how the right has risen to power over the last four decades and how and why the right continues to be a dominant political force, despite advancing what should otherwise be very unpopular economic policies. This book provides one of the best and most concise answers to that question that I’ve come across. The answer, as the authors explain, is fairly straightforward. It begins with a question philosophers and statesmen have been asking about democracy as far back as ancient Greece: What happens when an economic system that concentrates wealth in the hands of the few is combined with a political system that gives the vote to the many? What happens is two distinct economic classes develop divergent and competing interests. Capitalism creates a class of economic elites that try to preserve their wealth, while democracy gives the vote to the masses, who can collectively vote for wealth redistribution. To prevent this from happening, the economic elites require political representation, and that political representation is the Republican party. The Republican party, however, faces a daunting task, described by the authors as the Conservative Dilemma: “Then and now, the basic question for conservative leaders was the same: how to reconcile their allegiance to wealth and power with the need to attract the electoral support of voters without much of either.” It’s no secret that the right’s core constituency is big business and the wealthy, but to win elections, the right must appeal to a voter base that has little income or wealth. As the authors demonstrate in great detail, all conservative political strategy is centered on finding a way out of this dilemma. To the right’s credit, they’ve been wildly successful in their solution to the conservative dilemma. It’s a hard sell to tell your voter base that your economic plan essentially amounts to taking all economic growth and channeling it to the top 1 percent of earners while everyone else’s income remains stagnant, as has happened over the last four decades. This is why the right has figured out that they’d better not talk about economics too much. The better strategy is to create cultural division, to get their voter base to hate the left so much socially and culturally that they are willing to vote against their own economic interests. And in this regard, the right could not have done a better job. And the left plays right into it by largely ignoring economic issues as well. The right has set the conversation and the left plays right along, in many cases themselves moving far right economically, if not culturally. The right knows the game they can win: By aligning itself with Christian fundamentalists, the NRA, and conservative media outlets, the Rupublican party spends almost all of its time—not advancing any practical solutions to political problems—but rather cultivating hate and anger towards liberals. If people hate each other culturally, they cannot unite economically should be the motto of the GOP. The authors also dispel a common and annoying tendency for people to believe that both political parties are equally corrupt and biased. You often hear some variation of this statement: “Sure, the right is biased, but the left is equally guilty.” This is objectively and quantifiably false. Of course the left displays bias on many occasions, but what political scientists have found in the US is a phenomenon known as “asymmetric polarization,” where the right has drifted further right than the left has drifted left. The Republican party in the US has radicalized, and is now further right compared to 1) its own historical policy stances, 2) conservative parties in other nations, and 3) the economic policy preferences of its own voter base. The left in the US, on the other hand, is considerably to the RIGHT of other liberal parties in other countries. There may be bias on both sides, but it is far from symmetrical. The right advocates for radical free market fundamentalism, extreme cultural division, nationalism, authoritarianism, and a concentrated attack on democratic institutions and voting rights. For all the liberal bias that does exist, there is simply no left equivalents to these extreme positions. There is good news, however. As the authors point out, the conservative strategy is not sustainable. Winning elections through constantly criticizing the other party is a tiresome game, and eventually people come to learn that you have no good policy ideas yourself. The fact is, an economic strategy that distributes wealth UPWARDS is a con game that can trick the population for only so long, once we stop distracting ourselves with manufactured cultural divisions.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    The title, Let Them Eat Tweets, was clever and I am interested in the shift towards plutocracy, so I figured this might be an interesting read for me. Most of the information wasn’t presented directly, or even chronologically, but instead scattered between a lot of repetitive text which used different phrases to say the exact same thing. A quick read, it didn’t take me very long from start to finish. It reminds me of reading a college paper with a minimum word requirement; the author seemed to ad The title, Let Them Eat Tweets, was clever and I am interested in the shift towards plutocracy, so I figured this might be an interesting read for me. Most of the information wasn’t presented directly, or even chronologically, but instead scattered between a lot of repetitive text which used different phrases to say the exact same thing. A quick read, it didn’t take me very long from start to finish. It reminds me of reading a college paper with a minimum word requirement; the author seemed to add a lot of word padding to make it longer. I would have enjoyed the book more had the information been succinctly presented. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    Let Them Eat Tweets is an intentionally political divisive book. I am only concerned because the non-rich Republican voter who needs to read the facts within the book will skip it based on the title or quickly judge it as fake news. Essentially, the book is preaching to its own, democratic, choir. And the choir, which includes me, already knows these things just from being alive at this time. Someone needs to press home a simple truth: Watch what Trump does—not what he says. His actions do truly Let Them Eat Tweets is an intentionally political divisive book. I am only concerned because the non-rich Republican voter who needs to read the facts within the book will skip it based on the title or quickly judge it as fake news. Essentially, the book is preaching to its own, democratic, choir. And the choir, which includes me, already knows these things just from being alive at this time. Someone needs to press home a simple truth: Watch what Trump does—not what he says. His actions do truly contradict his rhetoric. Making America Great Again is a fantastic slogan...but what has he done to achieve that for anyone but himself and his rich friends? Not much, if anything. His plan is brilliant in its simplicity. Deny everything and, if the truth comes out, call it fake news. I better get off my soapbox and get back to the review. If you are a Democrat or a never-Trump Republican, Let Them Eat Tweets will validate your views. If you are a Trumper, you aren’t reading this review or the book but instead blasting me as a fool in the comments. That’s fine. We can agree to disagree. Because of the tone of the book, in my eyes at least, is not hitting the correct audience, 3 stars. Thanks to Liveright, W.W. Norton & Company, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shane Hankins

    This is the best book about contemporary politics and political economy I have ever read. It provides a crisp, clear and well argued framework for understanding the current political situation (some would say crises) in the US. If you want to understand how a small group of economic plutocrats keeps achieving their policy goals despite being massively at odds with the best interests and desires of the vast majority of the population, then you need to read this. It provides a robust yet relativel This is the best book about contemporary politics and political economy I have ever read. It provides a crisp, clear and well argued framework for understanding the current political situation (some would say crises) in the US. If you want to understand how a small group of economic plutocrats keeps achieving their policy goals despite being massively at odds with the best interests and desires of the vast majority of the population, then you need to read this. It provides a robust yet relatively simple paradigm for understanding our politics while sketching a roadmap for improving them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    The transformation of the GOP into a plutocracy that does little to help most of its constituents. Although a slightly different take than Dark Money and The Fifth Risk, the book provoked the same response from me: utter depression.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Excellent analysis of the expansion of "plutocratic populism" since Reagan. Republicans serve the wealthy using huge money donations (exacerbated by Citizens United) while maintaining the support of working class and middle class whites using racism, Fox News and social media, the NRA, and the abortion debate. Lots of interesting facts, including how the average Republican voter is significantly more progressive than the party. Trump is the culmination, not the main cause. Well worth a read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lorcan Neill

    The current state of the Republican Party is a danger to America. It’s embrace of plutocratic populism over the last 40 years has exacerbated inequality and divided the nation. They are actively engaging in tyranny of the minority. Read this to learn more - highly insightful and well written by two acclaimed political scientists.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Clay

    Republicans in the US rule using the three R's: resentment, racialization and rigging, combined with policies friendly to the super rich plutocracy. Resentment is the key: deep perceptions of unfairness and indignation at fellow citizens who they think others are eating their share of the pie. Partners such as the Christian Right and Fox News encourage and foment this dislike, steering it towards immigrants, people of color, gays and lesbians. They do this without mentioning that the real pigs a Republicans in the US rule using the three R's: resentment, racialization and rigging, combined with policies friendly to the super rich plutocracy. Resentment is the key: deep perceptions of unfairness and indignation at fellow citizens who they think others are eating their share of the pie. Partners such as the Christian Right and Fox News encourage and foment this dislike, steering it towards immigrants, people of color, gays and lesbians. They do this without mentioning that the real pigs at the trough are the plutocrats getting their tax cuts, and slashing social programs to pay for them. Indeed the extreme pro plutocrat slant worsens the social conditions for most voters, making them even more resentful. Racialization is related to this, drawing on the deep US history of slavery, reconstruction, apartheid, and pseudoscience on racial inferiority. Since these are increasingly minority views, the third plank of vote rigging is needed. This weaponizes elements of the constitution (overrepresentation of rural white voters in electoral college and senate elections, separation of powers) by aggressive gerrymandering in Republican controlled states, and appointments of extreme, right wing judges. This "successful" ruling strategy has been crafted over a long period, starting in the 1980s. Trump is just the latest manifestation. One aspect that needs further thought is the authors' labeling of this approach as "pro-business". While there are elements of this, there is also another side. For example, support to fossil fuel business (the Koch family is a major supporter) is arguably preventing the realignment to renewable energy, and could be turning US companies into zombie, uncompetitive businesses by undermining the forces of creative destruction at the heart of strong capitalist economies. Also, there is little mention of international elements, and how they intersect with the overall ruling strategy. Key enablers for the global super rich are the interlocking, global networks of company registrars, banks, offshore accounts, courts, real estate businesses, hedge funds, accountants, auditors, passport brokers and facilitators that enable beneficial owners to amass, protect and enjoy their fortunes. In addition, there are the endless wars in the Islamic world produce profits for military contractors, but isn't the lack of success risking the USA brand? And in recent years, the go it alone strategy of undermining long standing alliances seems risking the same, isn't it? Or is all of this part of a more far-reaching effort to justify a larger military, militarized police, surveillance state and other elements of authoritarianism to subdue the popular majority? Another element that could be given more emphasis is the divide and rule aspect of this strategy. Poor whites, blacks and latinos all have common economic interests. The RRR strategy works to keep them apart, and thus weakens their political voice. Another aspect that could be developed in a future edition is how the framework helps explain the unique US response to COVID-19. A divide and rule strategy pits poor whites against people of color, distracting them from their common economic interests in comprehensive health and other social programs, and regulations to protect the environment. This allows tax cuts and weak regulations benefiting the rich. Indeed, the assets of plutocrats and other wealthy investors are close to all time highs following massive pump priming from the Fed and Treasury, despite the pandemic and deep economic recession. Weak social programs and the lack of a coherent response to the pandemic, combined with willful ignoring of health guidance, fuels massive spikes in infections. Communities of blacks and people of color are hit particularly hard by disease and job losses. They protest, along with sympathizers, and some protests become violent. This violence is exacerbated as federal forces are sent in, and the "riots" are weaponized by Fox news and other outlets to feed into the rage and racism of the republican base of rural white men. Rigged voting is highly likely in the chaotic, pandemic setting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Krogmann

    Jacob and Paul deserve 5-stars for this book, which catalogues what should be common knowledge in America, but isn't. Namely, that the Republican party - as the Conservative party - are fascists: willing to overthrow democracy in the United States I'm pursuit of the power and transfer of wealth to the wealthy. They deserve 4-stars for the thoroughness of their argument and one star for it's importance. The thoroughness comes in the detailing of how the Republicans, facing the Conservative Dilemm Jacob and Paul deserve 5-stars for this book, which catalogues what should be common knowledge in America, but isn't. Namely, that the Republican party - as the Conservative party - are fascists: willing to overthrow democracy in the United States I'm pursuit of the power and transfer of wealth to the wealthy. They deserve 4-stars for the thoroughness of their argument and one star for it's importance. The thoroughness comes in the detailing of how the Republicans, facing the Conservative Dilemma -- slavish attachment to unpopular economic policies -- stoke outrage and embrace white identity politics in order to manipulate voters to win elections (that Republicans have increasingly rigged) in order to heap wealth on themselves and their donors (at the cost of the middle and lower classes). The book seeks to correct a huge, indefensible omission in their previous works -- like their otherwise awesome book, American Amnesia -- and that it is the degree to which racism motivates Republicans and their old, white male base to consider themselves above democracy and better than their fellow citizens. The authors' make a little too much of Republican use of "racialization," the use of seemingly non-racial terms to convey racist sentiments. It is interesting, but hairsplitting. Whether deployed as a strategy, tactic or a belief system, it is still plain, old, ugly racism know matter how it is package. There are at least two elements that are missing. The first is the story of how and why the Democratic Party so thoroughly abandoned labor to it's enemies. This is not central to the Conservative Dilemma telling and there are a few moments when light falls on the Democrats in the book. More here would be good. A second missing element is a(n) (a)moral one. The authors fail to call out how conservative policies seek to create or perpetuate systems of exploitation. Republican politicians and their donors form a small, powerful group who seek policies that actively allow them to profit from exploiting others -- think not just tax policy, but environmental, labor, consumer protection, collective bargaining, etc. This groups outstanding feature is it's psychopathology. Individuals (self-described "makers") who have the hubris to claim responsibility for the status and wealthy that inheritance and luck have given them, but refuse to take responsibility for the harm that they cause millions of others. Call it the original sin of the two Freds (Fred Koch and Fred Trump): the raising of a psychopathic cabal. May the lot of them -- the Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells along with the Trumps -- rot in hell with David Koch for their active pursuit of the misery of the masses. Our society needs a moral reckoning as much as our democracy needs a political one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Recommended by The New York Times and The Washington Post, I ordered this book and found myself underlining and writing notes throughout. The authors summarize and detail how the Republican Party got to where it is today: building a polarizing Us vs. Them dynamic that encourages (and succeeds in) tribalism and fear while simultaneously elevating very wealthy elites (plutocrats) whose main interest is keeping power and making sure the ‘other’ doesn’t make any headway or get to close to their inne Recommended by The New York Times and The Washington Post, I ordered this book and found myself underlining and writing notes throughout. The authors summarize and detail how the Republican Party got to where it is today: building a polarizing Us vs. Them dynamic that encourages (and succeeds in) tribalism and fear while simultaneously elevating very wealthy elites (plutocrats) whose main interest is keeping power and making sure the ‘other’ doesn’t make any headway or get to close to their inner circle. The authors make clear the irony and juxtaposition that to keep power the wealthy rely on a dwindling base of voters who are recruited using religion, race, bigotry, and false narratives. A huge part of the book is how and why these divisive tactics are eroding democratic norms, tenets, and values, and why their continuation and progression will further erode democracy. The chapter “Organizing Through Outrage” reveals particularly well how social media, Breitbart, and Fox have been used successfully to manipulate viewers. Although much of the analysis of the typical Trump Republican voter was old news to me, the detailed explanations of the history of how wealthy elites rose to power and now control all branches of government was new and quite alarming. It’s beyond bizarre that those who hold the purse strings and won’t share or care are the ones being upheld and supported mostly by those who benefit least. In their conclusion, the authors offer a ray of hope — a huge repudiation at voting booth and after is needed—but the overall tone, backed with economic inequality statistics, is sobering and dire about the future of our democracy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hasan

    There are many books that have been written in this genre of late including by Ezra Klein in 2019. This book references an often repeated fact of American politics. The GOP keeps squeezing every last ounce of white vote while alienating minorities and turning out an agenda meant to pay off their donor class and playing to nativist and conservative cultural sensitivities for the masses. This isn't a popular agenda. They do not adapt and propose a more popular agenda. It is truly the party of the There are many books that have been written in this genre of late including by Ezra Klein in 2019. This book references an often repeated fact of American politics. The GOP keeps squeezing every last ounce of white vote while alienating minorities and turning out an agenda meant to pay off their donor class and playing to nativist and conservative cultural sensitivities for the masses. This isn't a popular agenda. They do not adapt and propose a more popular agenda. It is truly the party of the plutocrats. The Republican candidate for president has won the popular vote one time since 1992. Trump isn't about to break that streak this cycle. But as we've seen with Bush v Gore and the more recent undemocratic behavior of the WI and NC GOPs after losing Governor's races, the GOP won't take losing lying down. As this book outlines, they'll try to manipulate electoral circumstances, work the referees, gerrymander their maps and more to hold on to power with their incredibly unpopular agenda. And thus far, they keep getting rewarded for it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Bailey

    Does as good a job of any book I’ve read at connecting the dots in recent political history around the rise of the Right in the Republican Party. Hacker and Pierson trace its source to the growth of inequality combined with the rising unpopularity of policies that further that inequality. To maintain political viability even while embracing the needs of the plutocracy, the party increasingly turned to a politics of resentment and racialization as well as policies that limit democratic control, i Does as good a job of any book I’ve read at connecting the dots in recent political history around the rise of the Right in the Republican Party. Hacker and Pierson trace its source to the growth of inequality combined with the rising unpopularity of policies that further that inequality. To maintain political viability even while embracing the needs of the plutocracy, the party increasingly turned to a politics of resentment and racialization as well as policies that limit democratic control, including by taking advantage of weaknesses in our political system (role of Senate, electoral college, gerrymandering, power of courts). Trump, they correctly argue, is not an aberration but an extension of a strategy that is decades in the making. The book is especially interesting in the role of extra-party institutions in “organizing outrage”—the NRA, evangelical Right, conservative media—and pushing the party to support plutocracy—Koch networks, US Chamber.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cyrus Douglas Vincent

    A good read, the book is both insightful and timely. Hacker and Pierson's book fits within a library of new work on the subject of plutocraracy and populism. Some of the material will not be new to regular readers on the subject, but it will provide some language on the topic that is important as well as better understanding of the framework that empowers the political hierarchy that is benefiting from the populist impulses of the masses (Trump is implied rather than made explicit). I can recomme A good read, the book is both insightful and timely. Hacker and Pierson's book fits within a library of new work on the subject of plutocraracy and populism. Some of the material will not be new to regular readers on the subject, but it will provide some language on the topic that is important as well as better understanding of the framework that empowers the political hierarchy that is benefiting from the populist impulses of the masses (Trump is implied rather than made explicit). I can recommend this book as both a primer for the casual political hobbyist to understand the mechanics of plutocratic populism as well as material for a close follower of political systems to continue building their understanding of contemporary power dynamics. It is well-written enough to satisfy either audience and fits neatly within the body of political literature I've read so far this year.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hemanth N

    Honestly, I had to put down the book several times to comprehend the current state of America. The book talks about how plutocracy (government by, for and of the rich) has risen to power and how richest 0.1 percent of Americans have roughly as much wealth as bottom 90% combined. The author shows how plutocrats has shifted not just to the right of conservative parties of other nations, but to the right of many right wing parties. The book talks about concepts of democratic backsliding, conservati Honestly, I had to put down the book several times to comprehend the current state of America. The book talks about how plutocracy (government by, for and of the rich) has risen to power and how richest 0.1 percent of Americans have roughly as much wealth as bottom 90% combined. The author shows how plutocrats has shifted not just to the right of conservative parties of other nations, but to the right of many right wing parties. The book talks about concepts of democratic backsliding, conservative dilemma, extreme inequality. It also explains how politicians made Evangelist ( Viguerie and Weyrich) to change their opinion and make Abortion as the most important issue. Also, how GOP started embraced three R's of resentment, racial tension and rigging.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chase Thomas

    First off, the title is amazing. But I really liked this book because it moves the past the latest and shiny trend in politics — the focus on non-college educated whites in rural areas — to shine a light on an existing problem that explains the major problem with the current GOP and its embrace of Trump. Plutocratic populism within the GOP is degrading our democracy and they are now doing everything possible to shore up their minority influence in the face of demographic change and increasingly First off, the title is amazing. But I really liked this book because it moves the past the latest and shiny trend in politics — the focus on non-college educated whites in rural areas — to shine a light on an existing problem that explains the major problem with the current GOP and its embrace of Trump. Plutocratic populism within the GOP is degrading our democracy and they are now doing everything possible to shore up their minority influence in the face of demographic change and increasingly unpopular policies. It really highlights the need for Democrats to focus on economic issues, rather than simply matching the GOP in its all out assault on cultural and social issues.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    In spite of the title this book doesn’t dwell on Tweetollini himself but does a capable job in an ever growing library of books in showing the rightward drift of the body politic in the US and the events behind it that led to the Tweeter-in-Chief in the WH. While this was a good overview and would definitely serve as a decent entrée into this topic for a young person or someone completely unfamiliar with these trends, it treats a 40 year wide swath in not the deepest detail, so it’s a good start In spite of the title this book doesn’t dwell on Tweetollini himself but does a capable job in an ever growing library of books in showing the rightward drift of the body politic in the US and the events behind it that led to the Tweeter-in-Chief in the WH. While this was a good overview and would definitely serve as a decent entrée into this topic for a young person or someone completely unfamiliar with these trends, it treats a 40 year wide swath in not the deepest detail, so it’s a good starting point but a lot of the topics covered (wealth inequality, race-baiting, union busting) have stand alone books that go into much greater depth.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Omar Orestes

    A great book that explains how the Republican Party convinced their constituencies to embrace plutocracy and vote against their own material interests. The GOP outsourced much of their political organizing to groups and organizations who successfully mobilized voters focusing on racial, cultural and social issues. If that fails, the GOP then deploys a number of strategies to undermine democratic institutions (gerrymandering) so they can continue to pass deeply unpopular policies that leads to ex A great book that explains how the Republican Party convinced their constituencies to embrace plutocracy and vote against their own material interests. The GOP outsourced much of their political organizing to groups and organizations who successfully mobilized voters focusing on racial, cultural and social issues. If that fails, the GOP then deploys a number of strategies to undermine democratic institutions (gerrymandering) so they can continue to pass deeply unpopular policies that leads to extreme wealth concentration and extreme wealth inequality.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Rehashes the familiar argument of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” in documenting the ways that Republicans campaign on social/cultural issues but legislate against their voters’ economic interests. But the authors add something else: in democracies that experience extreme inequality, conservatives tend exacerbate social divisions as an electoral strategy. Plutocrats use their wealth to co-opt conservatives’ economic agenda which is unpopular with the public, and so conservatives only have socia Rehashes the familiar argument of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” in documenting the ways that Republicans campaign on social/cultural issues but legislate against their voters’ economic interests. But the authors add something else: in democracies that experience extreme inequality, conservatives tend exacerbate social divisions as an electoral strategy. Plutocrats use their wealth to co-opt conservatives’ economic agenda which is unpopular with the public, and so conservatives only have social and cultural issues to campaign on.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    First of all, I LOVE the title! This little book packs a big punch! The authors explain how the Republican Party utilizes plutocratic populism to hold onto their shrinking white base This book was an important, but depressing read for me. I am a proud Democrat, but hate what the Republican Party has turned into.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    The author provides history, examples, and many theories on how the Republican party has changed with the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency. Key issues of government regulations, politics, economy are supported with end-notes. While leaders are identified as possible change agents, ideas for how to make the change are more superficial and lack details.

  26. 5 out of 5

    bronson

    This book puts forth the ineptitude of the Republican party and it's voters. They only serve the one minority that is destroying this country, the white ultra rich. Plenty of prose ammunition to help compel groups seeking a vast political revolution and a much needed labor movement for American workers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Picillo

    Poltical scientists explain the move of the Republican Party from Moderate to Far Right. This is explained because of economic inequality and power of elites.....In the conclusion....authors propose their remedies....

  28. 5 out of 5

    Subdee

    Nothing super groundbreaking but good arguments from the perspective of the center-right against the far-right and a lot of insight into the mechanics of the plutocratic takeover of the GOP. This seems like it's aimed squarely at folks with a conscience who are already in government.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Hacker delivers again as one of the preeminent thinkers and writers on American political science. Highly recommend this to anyone looking to understand how Trump is the logical outcome of years of GOP destructive politics.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Cohen

    Makes its case, nothing earth shattering. Probably a good place to start if you haven’t been following American politics too closely, and are trying to get a handle on how it got so messed up.

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