“It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump”
Welcome to The Signorile Report, where you’ll read hard-hitting political commentary and exposés; find interviews with newsmakers; hear me “engage” with right-wingers who call my radio program; and connect with like-minded, passionate people everywhere committed to fighting against hate and corruption. Subscribe now to get all of this in your email box a few times a week.
Recently I interviewed former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens on my SiriusXM show about his new book, “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” and how he left the GOP, having diligently working in it for many years, after he realized it was a sham. (You can listen to the entire interview here, and I really think it’s worth hearing.)
Stevens has been a GOP strategist for decades. He has served as strategist and media consultant to dozens of House members governors, senators, presidents and presidential candidates, including Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Chuck Grassley, Rob Portman, Dan Coates and others.
Unlike some others who’ve left the party, Stevens concludes in his book that Donald Trump didn’t take over the Republican Party but is rather the embodiment of it — that the GOP has always been racist to the core, and Trump was readymade for it. I found that admission more refreshing than others Never Trumpers, even if it sometimes is hard to fathom the rationalizations people like Stevens made.
Stevens said he came to realize that the things he believed the GOP stood for — strong defense against Russia, free trade, personal responsibility, taking on deficits, among others — were all just a facade. Racism was and is the main issue, and he admits he used it in elections to win, though was almost unconscious about how he used it.
Stevens described to me that it was easy not to think that race was the the primary issue that motivated most Republican voters, because those around him — a bubble of elites, if you will — cared about all those other big issues much more. He said Trump winning the primary and then the election in 2016 woke him up to the reality.
Some have criticized him, saying he couldn’t be that naive, or that he’s still not answering to his work for Mitt Romney in 2012, which wasn’t that long ago. But his insights into the GOP and what drove it and drives it — and Trump — now are illuminating and important. So I thought you should hear the entire interview.
Here’s an excerpt:
“A lot of it was a feeling that we were on the right side of history. And there was almost an inevitability of the party. Plus, we did acknowledge failures. And that’s very important to note. In many ways this is all about race. In 1956, Eisenhower gets 40% of the Black vote. In 1964 with Goldwater it drops to 7%. And it never comes back. So since 1964 the Republican Party has failed to attract African-Americans.
“Now, we used to admit that that was failure. And I think that mattered. I think what you aspire to is important. Now the party is — you don’t even hear about it being a big tent anymore. And it’s jut really become comfortable with white grievance.
“So I guess, when I woke up in the morning I felt I was working for the side of the party that was the more positive and brighter side. And I think I probably was — I just thought people would fight, that they would fight for what they believed in. I think national parties should serve as circuit breakers. And that never happened. Republicans never pulled the circuit on Donald Trump.”
Listen to the entire interview, however, and let me know your thoughts.