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The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party

de Ryan Sager

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Praise for The Elephant in the Room ""This funny, sobering, smart book reminds Republicans that having beliefs isn't good enough. You have to act on them. Winning isn't enough; you have to win with a purpose in mind. Ryan Sager sounds a real call to arms. The party would be wise to hear it."" --Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal ""An insightful and eminently readable account of the current conservative crackup. Anyone who wants to understand American politics today needs to read Sager's chronicle of the ongoing civil war in the conservative ranks."" --Paul Begala, coauthor of Take It Back ""Two feisty American factions are at daggers drawn. No, the fight is not conservatives versus liberals. Rather, it is libertarian conservatives versus 'social issues' conservatives. In this illuminating examination of the changing ideological geography of American politics, Ryan Sager suggests that the conservatives must choose between Southern and Western flavors of conservatism. He prefers the latter."" --George F. Will, syndicated columnist ""Sager picks up where Bruce Bartlett left off with Impostor. The Elephant in the Room tells us how libertarians and the Christian conservatives are at swords' point over Bush's 'big government conservatism.' Anyone who wants to understand this important debate should get a copy of Sager's book."" --John B. Judis, coauthor of The Emerging Democratic Majority ""Ryan Sager offers an eloquent, elegant argument that the GOP has lost its way--an argument that even those of us who disagree with many of his criticisms and object passionately to many of his characterizations must take with the utmost seriousness."" --John Podhoretz, author of Can She Be Stopped?… (mais)
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This is a pretty good look at the reasons why the Republican Party is falling apart. Some of the stuff in the book I have known about from other readings, and observation, but Sager works well to confirm some of what I knew. Though he is writing from a conservative point of view, namely as an interested party, he still is able to look at the GOP and discuss what is happening to them. The main argument of the book is that the GOP is divided between two major camps: the "leave me alone" libertarians and the fundamentalist evangelicals who strive to pretty much create a theocracy. Sager does not use the word theocracy, but in how he describes the goals of the evangelicals in terms of wanting to use government to impose their moral agenda he may as well be using the word since he pretty much defines theocracy. These two camps are tearing the party apart. The libertarians are mostly taken for granted (the ones who have not left the party), and the evangelicals have pretty much hijacked the party, as illustrated by G.W. Bush's administration.

Though the book was written two years before the 2008 election, a lot of it feels very prophetic. Reading it now, knowing how certain events turned out, gives you an appreciation of how the GOP has pretty much allowed itself to be hijacked, and worse, how that party now pretty much exists to hold on to power by any means necessary. That is a point made in the book as well, and Republicans, true Republicans, should be concerned that the party they thought was about small government, less taxes, and more free enterprise is now the party of even more government, more taxes, more wars of choice, and less free enterprise for the sake of imposing a religious agenda that most of the country does not want. Because at the end of the day, most people are closer to the "leave me alone" philosophy.

Personally, I have no love for the GOP. And especially after the last 8 years, watching them self-destruct is kind of a pleasure; they had it coming. But I have no love for the Democrats either, who seem bent on just playing dead and pandering as well to their interest. Politicians in the end. This book was interesting because it looks at the GOP over time. I found the historical overviews particularly interesting as a someone who likes to study history. And I see once again that it is necessary to study history to avoid mistakes, something the GOP clearly is not doing now. Republicans probably should read this book (or read it again if they have not done so recently). But the other side also should look it over, just to know what is going on. This provides a pretty good explanation, though not the total answer, of why the GOP is acting as it is now. Some of their obstructionism these days becomes clear once you understand where they come from; it does not make it right, but you get an idea of how this has been building over time.
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  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
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Praise for The Elephant in the Room ""This funny, sobering, smart book reminds Republicans that having beliefs isn't good enough. You have to act on them. Winning isn't enough; you have to win with a purpose in mind. Ryan Sager sounds a real call to arms. The party would be wise to hear it."" --Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal ""An insightful and eminently readable account of the current conservative crackup. Anyone who wants to understand American politics today needs to read Sager's chronicle of the ongoing civil war in the conservative ranks."" --Paul Begala, coauthor of Take It Back ""Two feisty American factions are at daggers drawn. No, the fight is not conservatives versus liberals. Rather, it is libertarian conservatives versus 'social issues' conservatives. In this illuminating examination of the changing ideological geography of American politics, Ryan Sager suggests that the conservatives must choose between Southern and Western flavors of conservatism. He prefers the latter."" --George F. Will, syndicated columnist ""Sager picks up where Bruce Bartlett left off with Impostor. The Elephant in the Room tells us how libertarians and the Christian conservatives are at swords' point over Bush's 'big government conservatism.' Anyone who wants to understand this important debate should get a copy of Sager's book."" --John B. Judis, coauthor of The Emerging Democratic Majority ""Ryan Sager offers an eloquent, elegant argument that the GOP has lost its way--an argument that even those of us who disagree with many of his criticisms and object passionately to many of his characterizations must take with the utmost seriousness."" --John Podhoretz, author of Can She Be Stopped?

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