Curing the causes and consequences of Trumpism
It’s no secret that the United States faces extraordinary political and societal challenges, even as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Political polarization and extremism are the most apparent symptoms, resulting from long-term economic and social inequities as well as a toxic information ecosystem.
It is easy to blame Donald Trump for the sad state of American democracy. After all, he abused his executive authority, spread false claims, and even incited violence. But Trumpism is almost certain to outlast Trump himself. The grievances he exploited and the aggrieved to whom he appealed existed well before he became president and likely will endure after he is gone from the political scene.
The current political atmosphere is poisonous for those who operate on the basis of facts, reason, and logic. It is time to step back from this dangerous precipice and reflect on the causes of the serious threats to American democracy, procedural justice, and a reason-based society. With polarization now entrenched and authoritarianism gaining strength, no one should assume that facts somehow will triumph over falsehoods and reason will prevail over emotion.
Drawing on his personal experiences in the D.C. policy world, Darrell West offers advice for protecting people, organizations, and the country as a whole from our contemporary challenges. This book makes the risks to democracy understandable by explaining specific threats and offering concrete ideas for ameliorating them. It will appeal to anyone interested in American politics, democracy, elections, mass media, technology, and governance.
Review’s on Power Politics
“Liberal-minded students of politics will find West’s arguments persuasive and his case well presented.” Kirkus Reviews
“If there is one thing we’ve all had to (re)learn over the last decade, it’s that our Republic is surprisingly fragile. What Darrell West does in this book is different from many others on this topic. Instead of hand-wringing about a person or a single issue that is the lead cause of our current troubled democracy, he looks at some of the root causes of the corrosiveness and, yes, rot in some of our key institutions that help sustain the democracy. Like any problem that needs to be tackled, there isn’t one thing that needs fixing, there is a lot and Darrell West identifies the many areas that need and deserve reform.” Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press”
“Blending political analysis with his personal observations as a Washington inside, Darrell West astutely diagnoses what ails the American political system from Trumpism to cancel culture. It is an urgent call for structural reform and cultural rejuvenation to save U.S. democracy before it is too late.” Richard L. Hasen, University of California at Irvine and author of Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics–and How to Cure It
“The forces now shaking our democracy didn’t start with Donald Trump’s arrival and won’t end with his departure. Darrell West argues in his ambitious, alarming new book. He sees a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges in our economy, our culture, and our technology that threaten to undermine the American experiment. But we aren’t helpless to begin responding, and he describes how to start.” Susan Page, Washington bureau chief of USA Today and author of Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power
“Darrell West has capitalized on his own background as a child of the Bible Belt, 26 years teaching political science at Brown University and 14 years as Director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution to produce an insightful analysis of the contemporary political ecosystem. Power Politics is an exceptional, nuanced and innovative exploration of how we are stuck in one of the most dangerous moments in the nation’s history.” Thomas Edsall, New York Times columnist
Darrell M. West is vice president of the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of Divided Politics, Divided Nation: Hyperconflict in the Trump Era. West lives in Washington, DC.