The award-winning producer of The Rachel Maddow Show exposes the Republican Party as a gang of impostors, meticulously documenting how they have abandoned their duty to govern and are gravely endangering America
For decades, American voters innocently assumed the two major political parties were equally mature and responsible governing entities, ideological differences aside. That belief is due for an overhaul: in recent years, the Republican Party has undergone an astonishing metamorphosis, one so baffling and complete that few have fully reckoned with the reality and its consequences.
Republicans, simply put, have quit governing. As MSNBC's Steve Benen charts in his groundbreaking new book, the contemporary GOP has become a "post-policy party." Republicans are effectively impostors, presenting themselves as officials who are ready to take seriously the substance of problem solving, but whose sole focus is the pursuit and maintenance of power. Astonishingly, they are winning–at the cost of pushing the political system to the breaking point.
Despite having billed itself as the "party of ideas," the Republican Party has walked away from the hard but necessary work of policymaking. It is disdainful of expertise and hostile toward evidence and arithmetic. It is tethered to few, if any, meaningful policy preferences. It does not know, and does not care, about how competing proposals should be crafted, scrutinized, or implemented. This policy nihilism dominated the party's posture throughout Barack Obama's presidency, which in turn opened the door to Donald Trump who would cement the GOP's post-policy status in ways that were difficult to even imagine a few years earlier.
The implications of this approach to governance are all-encompassing. Voters routinely elect Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence to powerful offices, expecting GOP policymakers to have the technocratic wherewithal to identify problems, weigh alternative solutions, forge coalitions, accept compromises, and apply some level of governmental competence, if not expertise. The party has consistently proven those hopes misguided.
The result is an untenable political model that's undermining the American policymaking process and failing to serve the public's interests. The vital challenge facing the civil polity is coming to terms with the party's collapse as a governing entity and considering what the party can do to find its policymaking footing anew.
The Impostors serves as a devastating indictment of the GOP's breakdown, identifying the culprits, the crisis, and its effects, while challenging Republicans with an imperative question: Are they ready to change direction? As Benen writes, "A great deal is riding on their answer."
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Table of Contents
1 "We're Not Great at the Whole Governing Thing" Meet the Post-Policy Party 1
2 "Manipulate the Numbers and Game the System" Economic Policy 21
3 "Even If It Worked, I Would Oppose It" Health Care 65
4 "Extending a Middle Finger to the World" Climate Change and Energy Policy 105
5 "A Series of Hasty Unplanned, Unexamined Decisions" Foreign Policy 133
6 "The Cruelty Is the Point" The Collapse of Immigration Policy 173
7 "We Stand by the Numbers" The Federal Budget 207
8 Life and Death in the Culture Wars Gun Control, Civil Rights, Reproductive Rights 229
9 "Governing by Near-Death Experience" Government Shutdowns and Debt-Ceiling Crises 255
10 "It's Like These Guys Take Pride in Being Ignorant" The Eternal Campaign 281
11 Bridging the "Wonk Gap" The Road Ahead 307