The book covers the rise of Newt Gingrich and how his scorched-earth tactics to take over first the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives and then to win a majority in the House itself in the 1980s and 1990s basically wrecked the Congress for a generation.
I have despised Gingrich ever since I have been following politics, and I am perpetually annoyed at how political journalists and pundits fall for the ideas that he is some sort of Big Thinker. Gingrich is an amoral thug, and while he is not completely to blame for our current crisis—he could not have risen to power without the help of the rest of the Republican Party—he had a big share in laying the groundwork for a figure like Trump.
I have explained this to him, but he is still meowing at me about why am I not petting him right now.
“Turtle,” said Frog. “You will have to move over a few inches.”
“Why should I?” asked the turtle.
“Because there is a pandemic,” said Frog.
“The pandemic is fake,” said the turtle. “Wearing a mask makes you sick. This is all a hoax caused by 5G and planned by hospital executives—”
Frog backed away quickly.
“Let’s just go home,” said Frog.
“I am right behind you.” agreed Toad.
I suspect that if Trump loses, the majority of Americans will breathe a sigh of relief and, understandably, welcome some peace and quiet. But the reflection we all saw in the mirror that Trump held up was no illusion. As many of the Never Trumpers have been acknowledging, the president isn’t simply a bad apple that will cleanse the Republican Party once it is removed. Getting back to “normal” won’t be enough to preserve our democratic ideals.
On the one hand, I’m hopeful because a consciousness raised is not likely to be hidden again. A lot of white people have been doing some soul searching when it comes to their own views on racism and the effects of that will be permanent. But I also know that the sense of urgency will be lost as those who have been made uncomfortable during Trump’s presidency will seek the solace of comfort once again. If that sentiment prevails, we will have lost an important moment to make great strides in perfecting our union.