The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics
a book by Salena Zito and Brad Todd
(our site's book review)
The Amazon blurb says that Standout syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Salena Zito, with veteran Republican strategist Brad Todd, report across five swing states and over 27,000 miles to answer the pressing question: Was Donald Trump's election a fluke or did it represent a fundamental shift in the electorate that will have repercussions—for Republicans and Democrats—for years to come?
The history of the American electorate is not a litany of flukes; instead it is a pattern of tectonic plate-grinding, punctuated by a landscape-altering earthquake every generation or so. Donald Trump's electoral coalition is smashing both American political parties and its previously impenetrable political news media. The political experts called the 2016 election wrong and in the wake of the 2016 election surprise, the experts have continued to blow it—looking to predict the coming demise of the President without pausing to consider the durability of the trends and winds that swept him into office.
The history of the American electorate is not a litany of flukes; instead it is a pattern of tectonic plate-grinding, punctuated by a landscape-altering earthquake every generation or so—like Donald Trump
The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics delves deep into the minds and hearts of the voters that make up this coalition. What emerges is a group of citizens who cannot be described by terms like "angry," "male," "rural," or the often-used "racist." They span job descriptions, income brackets, education levels, and party allegiances. What unites them is their desire to be part of a movement larger than themselves that puts pragmatism before ideology, localism before globalism, and demands the respect it deserve from Washington.
At least as early as 2010, the term *Heartland has been used to refer to many so-called "red states", including those in the Bible belt; we think of it as red states, since the Midwest is just part of the U.S. heart
Zito and Todd have traveled on over 27,000 miles of country roads to interview more than 300 Trump voters in 10 swing counties. What they have discovered is that these voters were hiding in plain sight—ignored by both parties, the media, and the political experts all at once, ready to unite into the movement that spawned the greatest upset in recent electoral history. Deeply rooted in the culture of these Midwestern swing states, Zito and Brad Todd reframe the discussion of the "Trump voter" to answer the question: What next?
This insightful—but slanted—book went outside of the beltway bubble—into the *heartland—especially the swing states—and talked to Hillary's basket of deplorables which, it turns out, Hillary herself should have done. She forgot that the contest wasn't about who got the most citizens to vote for her, but about winning the electoral college majority. The authors’ central point is that Trump’s election is not a fluke; whatever his faults may be, they do not outweigh his good points in the view of a wide variety of voters. It needs to be said that these are people that listen to his words are not very aware of most of the radical actions of his G.O.P. buddies—actions that have been going on since the inauguration. These actions are democracy demolition, which few Democrats are unaware of and few Republicans fail to ignore, lie about or spin with propaganda, although you surely won't find that in Zito's and Todd's book.
This insightful book went outside of the beltway bubble and into the heartland—especially the swing states—and talked to Hillary's basket of deplorables
The authors actually talked to Hillary's basket of deplorables which, it turns out, Hillary herself should have done
Using voter "types" as examples, the book gives plausible explanations for the underlying social wave that is transforming U.S. politics in spite of many false media narratives by "journalists" who are no more than political operatives with agendas. The book includes extensive interviews that are very relatable.
The main components of the populist coalition are not merely Hillary's basket of deplorables, but also Red-Blooded and Blue-Collared, Perot-istas, Rough Rebounders, Girl Gun Power, Rotary Reliables, King Cyrus Christians, and Silent Suburban Moms. The fact that Hillary thought of heartland citizens as deplorables not only demonstrated ignorance, stereotyping, and elitism. It also made the thoroughly insulted heartlanders about as likely to vote for her as the Pope is to film child porn.
Our citizens were told our Iraq invasion was about democratization (a lie) and it therefore made them unhappy when Obama (rightly) apologized for the U.S. wrecking the place
Interestingly, three issues kept coming up as the authors talked with citizens: who controls the Supreme Court, gun rights, and, most interestingly, the habit Obama had of apologizing, usually about the United States. Obama began his term by apologizing to the entire Muslim world and this was entirely proper given the mess Dubya and Obama created in the Middle East. But citizens conditioned by the mainstream media propaganda machine have been told this mess was part of our heroic efforts to democratize the place (a bald-faced lie), and they did not like hearing it denigrated. The truth hurts, and they didn't tune in to see/hear Obama to be hurt.
Zito and Todd describe how the mainstream press got it wrong, and how Hillary Clinton was essentially her own worst enemy. But they do so by letting people talk, not by putting words in their mouths. "The media took Trump literally, but never seriously. His followers took him seriously, but never literally," said Zito. Trump worked hard to become president. The authors worked just as hard to answer the questions about just how Trump came to be President.
This book may stop Democratics from losing again in 2020 due to overconfidence, false assumpions, superficial thinking, poor research standards, and arrogance—four more years of Trump's democracy demolition is unthinkable!
In The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics, the old saw that “all politics are local” is a prominent, albeit unspoken, theme. Many heartland Americans have a near-spiritual connection to their hometowns, and they perceived Trump as the first national candidate in their lifetimes who cared as deeply for their towns as they did. Trump may keep such pretenses going, talking about watching out for the little guy, but throughout Trump's life he has made it abundantly clear that he cares for himself and his family and for his bank account and not much else. Why would intelligent citizens fall for his manipulations, when five minutes of Google searches could have so easily dispelled any notion of him watching out for the little guy? Adding to Zito's comment “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally,” we say "just take him, PLEASE!"
Zito and Todd’s neutrality could be questioned, of course, since both have a history of working for Republican campaigns. The book's interviews are designed to show us that Trump voters—at least these Trump voters—are not the “deplorables” that Hillary Clinton sought to portray them as. Reading like a walk through our country’s heartland, it’s comforting to know that the America many of us grew up in, actually still exists.
Reading like a walk through our country’s heartland, it’s comforting to know that the America many of us grew up in, actually still exists
However, some parts of the heartland are more formidable than others. Here is the swinging banjo from the movie Deliverance—you know the rest!
As one Amazon reviewer, Dave Todaro, sees it, "Hillary Clinton’s biggest strategic blunder, the authors might say, was her gun control gambit. Zito and Todd show us that millions of voters who participated in The Great Revolt regard gun ownership as an inalienable right, and as a deeply-ingrained way of life. Clinton didn’t anticipate that the many women who own guns would value Trump’s pledge to protect their 2nd Amendment rights more than they loathed his personal misogyny or cared about seeing a woman become President."
To me, being a feminist means being in control at all times of your destiny which includes not just carrying a gun, but knowing how to use it—it’s smart and empowering
“To me, being a feminist means being in control at all times of your destiny. That includes not just carrying a gun, but knowing how to use it—it’s smart. It’s empowering. It reminds me I am in charge of taking care of myself and my family at all times,” says Amy Giles-Maurer.
Hillary Clinton’s biggest strategic blunder, the authors might say, was her gun control gambit—with which she proceeded to shoot herself in the foot
Says one reader: "A couple of generations from now it could all be lost, but for now we have a president who cares about the 'ordinary' people in 'flyover country' and we voted for him, warts and all." Saying one cares about the ordinary people after spending a lifetime proving the opposite is simply hypocrisy. But nearly all politicians do this all the time—lying their way into office. Choosing Hillary's lying hypocrisy over Trump's lying hypocrisy—or vice versa—is not really intelligent, thoughtful voting as much as it is the success of one candidate's emotional manipulations over the other. Trump stirred emotions, even if they were misogynistic, sexist, racist, xenophobic ones, fearful ones, angry ones, vengeful ones, nationalistic ones, or hateful ones. Trump lit a fire under the basket of deplorables and the result was very predictable: they got fired up. Hillary was in over her head, against Trump, against email servers, against fake news, against Benghazi and Libya challenges, and against her own mouth when she spewed that gem about the basket of deplorables. We really do need a woman president—just not THAT woman.
We really do need a woman president—just not THAT woman
As another reader, The Curmudgeon, says: "Zito ends by explaining that the extreme political polarization we have seen since about 2006 started with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and a similar Blackberry the year before. These devices allowed easy and constant access to the web where everyone could become a reporter and bypass the establishment media. This phenomenon heralded the demise of the expert and especially the career politician. Meanwhile Trump was the first major politician to master the use of social media which further reduced the influence of the mainstream media." The problem came when brains turned off to thinking but turned on to getting opinions from friends, which was easier and less effort. This led to an ignorant public who would lap up political lies from a lying sexist narcissist employing demagogic tactics.
The extreme political polarization we have seen since about 2006 started with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and a similar Blackberry the year before
Hillary lost in 2016, as she deserved to do. But the question then becomes: did Trump deserve to win? Of course not. But he won because Hillary blew it, not because Trump nailed it. It was a fluke to win when he was an unrepentant sexist, xenophobic, racist, demagogic narcissist. This could only happen if his opponent really blew it bigtime. She did. The obvious reasons are email servers, merciless fake news, Benghazi, Libya, that gem about the basket of deplorables, and being the Establishment Queen when the voters wanted something better—or at least different. She represented status quo when the majority of Americans wanted better.
On the plus side was experience, knowledge, being female and supporting feminism when much of the country wanted that, and being decent and forgiving about Bill's dalliance with Monica.
Hillary needed to support gun rights as strongly as Trump, but she didn't. She needed to look like something besides Obama 2.0 in a skirt, but she didn't. Obama was a racist, pushing black skin privilege at a time when literally millions of skilled, educated citizens were losing jobs, scholarships and promotions to less qualified minorities due to affirmative action—the ludicrous idea that we can decrease racism by experiencing more of it. The only black Supreme Court Justice doesn't believe in it, so why should we?
And Hillary needed to take a brave stand and ridicule liberals in colleges pushing the "whites are victimizers and blacks are victims" nonsense—wrecking the college experience for "evil" whites—especially males. And the voters were really sick of political correctness in general wrecking learning and attitudes all around them. They were fed up with micro-aggressions and other such nonsense. Trump, admittedly, was and is the perfect antidote for such nonsense. He talked like he'd ensure racism against whites would be stopped—his support of white supremicist nationalists clarified the issue nicely for denizens of the heartland.
Clarence Thomas was rightly against affirmative action
"Zito and Todd argue that the condescension of liberal elites energizes Trump supporters. 'For a key slice of his coalition, it was attacks on their values on the national stage by a culture careening leftward that drew voters to his bombast,' they write. Or as one Iowa voter told them: 'We just felt for the last eight years we were spoon-fed this liberal cultural crap.' . . . the book concludes with the authors’ attack against the 'multiculturalist militancy pushed by the Far Left'" (Source: How to slice, dice and make nice with the Trump coalition, Carlos Lozada, Washington Post)
'We just felt for the last eight years we were spoon-fed this liberal cultural crap (from Obama and Hillary)'
[The book] "draws broad conclusions from an examination of a narrow slice of voters. The authors interview Trump voters—mostly white, middle-aged (and older), straight, and Christian, whom they describe as 'largely forgotten people'—from five states that flipped Republican in 2016. . . . Partisan language and framing . . . signal that the book’s intended readership is fellow conservatives. The representation of Trump supporters as misunderstood victims steeped in Americana will likely play well with that audience." (Source: The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics, Publishers Weekly)
"On Election Day 2016, journalists learned that in dismissing Trump and his followers, they had made a gigantic mistake. . . . The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics is organized around the findings of a poll, commissioned for the book, of 2,000 self-identified Trump voters from Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Trump is president because he won slim majorities in these states . . . Chief among the reasons for this remarkable shift in votes was Trump’s criticism of offshoring and foreign competition. His pledge to bring back manufacturing jobs was ranked most important by the voters surveyed for this book." (Source: Understanding the Upheaval, Matthew Continetti)
The authors say that "Trump’s campaign was arguably the least partisan in recent memory, because from the start he aimed his fire at both political trenches. By Election Day, Trump had vanquished not only the stale institutional hierarchy of the Democratic and Republican parties, exemplified perfectly by the gasping legacy brands of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, but the entire national press corps as well. In his first campaign announcement speech in the lobby of Trump Tower in June 2016, Trump said: 'I’ve watched the politicians….They will never make America great again. They don’t even have a chance. They’re controlled fully—they’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, and by the special interests, fully.'" Duh!
By Election Day, Trump had vanquished not only the stale institutional hierarchy of the Democratic and Republican parties, but the entire national press corps as well
One thing we noted about the book was that it was not objective. When citizens said they couldn't trust Hillary since she seems to be lying, the obvious follow-up question is about Trump's constant lies all the way through the election process. But by leaving this unasked, the book becomes less objective political research and more agenda-pushing political propaganda. Compared to Trump, Hillary was a saint of truthfulness. The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics is a bit dry, but it provides some underlying sociological analysis that has been lacking elsewhere. It may stop Democratic egoes from causing them to be losing again in 2020 due to overconfidence, false assumpions, superficial thinking, poor research standards, arrogance, and not understanding why they blew it in 2016. Four more years of Trump's democracy demolition is unthinkable! See The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy.