If you want to understand the last four years, read this book. If, like millions of Americans you feel demoralized by spineless Republican leaders prematurely calling for Trump’s concession even in the midst of a questionable election outcome, then read this book. And perhaps most importantly, if you want a jumpstart on 2021 and knowing why tens of millions of Americans are never going back to quietly accepting the pre-Orange Man political status quo, then read this book.—G. Figurelli
I have a confession to make: I often discover things that end up becoming of interest to me years after they were already of interest among the main public. I’m sometimes late to the party. Unlike my more trendy friends, I didn’t begin watching “Lost” until Season 3 was already out. Ditto with “24,” even accidentally starting Season 3 thinking I was watching Season 1. “Downton Abbey”? Same. I discovered the beauty of craft beer just one year ago, a decade or two after everyone else. Van Halen saved me from disco, but not until 1982, a full four years after the release of their eponymous album that forever changed the world of rock music.
Apparently, it is in that very spirit of personal tardiness that I bought Ilana Mercer’s book The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed. I knew not at the time of my purchase that the book was published before Trump had become president and largely covers events that occurred while Bad Orange Man was yet contending for the Republican nomination. I didn’t notice until after receiving the book and checking the table of contents that I was reading a book that was filled with then-current event essays, that is, from 2015 and 2016. Again, I’m late to the party. But I am oh so glad I finally showed up.
I wouldn’t implore you today to listen to Eddie van Halen’s signature guitar solo Eruption so that you could be trendy and know what is the latest in music. I would instead tell you that unless you listen, you will not and cannot understand the revolution that took place in the 1980s to rock music and particularly guitar. Now I’m not ready yet to put Ilana Mercer the brilliant author in the same rarefied air as Eddie van Halen the genius guitarist, but I hope you see my point. I would not beseech you to buy this 2016 book nearly five years after its publication because the newsworthy items discussed in its pages are current; they’re not. I would say instead: “Buy it because without this book your understanding of the last four years, and perhaps more importantly, the next four years, will suffer if you do not.” In a world where it can seem pointless to bother reading last week’s news commentary, it would seem to doubly absurd to suggest reading commentary from 2015-2016. I flirted with just that despairing thought when the book arrived and I soon discovered my intact and unfortunate trend of being untrendy. Thankfully, however, I was undeterred by another iteration of untimeliness on my part, and it took almost no time to realize I was reading a truly evergreen analysis of the phenomenon of President Donald Trump.
The author’s style and substance is so engaging that I overcame my ordinarily beleaguered attention span (thanks social media!) and consumed its 235 pages in one afternoon. Here is my high level takeaway: The Trump Revolution (1) is a brilliant and cogent reminder of why the American people elected Donald Trump in the first place; (2) contains a treasure-trove of insight into the reasons the Republican establishment is now willing to let Trump fall on his sword, even in the midst of credible claims of a compromised election; and (3) provides a plausible framework for knowing how and why (presumably) incoming president Biden who, when not spraining his ankles playing with his dogs or leading the effort to mobilize trunalimunumaprzure, will face spirited opposition from tens of millions of Trumpian Americans who are plain fed up with the Managerial Duopoly and its existential threat to what remains of American liberty. There is so much more, but those three observations alone should make you buy and read this book.
But in case you’re not yet convinced (or still reading because you really enjoy amateur book reviews), I’ll briefly elaborate. The author begins with an opening statement in which she asserts her affinity for the process of Trump more so than any broad kinship with the policies of Trump. The Donald, who refreshingly refuses to identify “America” with “the U.S. Government,” might just save us the horror of a Hillary Clinton presidency (he did!). Even better than that (pause for a moment to strain the imagination), he is exactly the kind of “utterly different political animal” to expose and perhaps even partially dismantle the “Federal Frankenstein.” It’s not her unalloyed love of Trump’s personality and policy positions that gives Mercer this hope, but rather his love of the American people and his willingness, a la the signers of the Declaration, to “[pledge] to the American people a chunk of his life, his fortune, and sacred honor.” It’s Trump’s process of “creative destruction” taking dead aim at the media-political elite that provides hope for what a Trump presidency could mean for liberty. Looking back, I don’t think Trump has disappointed the author in that regard.
The book’s opening statement is followed by twenty-nine hard-hitting, easy-to-read, brilliantly insightful essays written between June 2015 and April 2016. In other words, those gloriously entertaining ten months of Trump taking a veritable wrecking ball to the RNC and the media, Fox included. The reader will no doubt be edified by the author’s friendly interactions with paleo conservative and libertarian thinkers such as Paul Gottfried, Thomas Woods, Clyde Wilson, Murray Rothbard and others (the author herself is a paleo-libertarian). The reader can also anticipate Mercer’s witty and endearing sarcasm that targets media-political establishment types like Megyn Kelly, John McCain, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Bill Krystol, and more. Did I mention Megyn Kelly? If relishing a wordsmith like Mercer skillfully employing the pen to reduce the “Me-Myself-And-I Megyn Production” (Chapter 16) to something more closely resembling a mere mortal is something you think you could enjoy, then stop now and hit the Buy it Now button. This timeless commentary on the self-important elite is worth the wait for next day delivery.
Again, it’s undoubtedly the case that the twenty-nine chapters at the heart of the book are hard-hitting, easy-reading, and brilliantly insightful. But looking back from our current vantage point of late 2020, with the sun now likely setting on what is at least the most entertaining presidency in American history (#covfefe), I might wish to add “nearly-prophetic” to my list of commendations. Mercer had hoped that Trump’s pragmatic, provincial populism would prove a thorn in the flesh of the Beltway Establishment and a boon to individual liberty, or at least a temporary stay of execution for liberty. However, this hope yet remains mere hope, for liberty has not securely won the day. Thus I say “nearly” prophetic because we possibly stand, as many have warned, at the frightening crossroads of tyranny, civil war, or dissolution of the union. Perhaps the union and liberty can be preserved together – perhaps. But if nothing else, Donald Trump has exposed the imminent political threat to that heretofore relative happy marriage – the deep state and its shadowy allies.
In 2016, as Mercer explains, Donald Trump beat out the engorged field of Republican candidates because he “[smashed] an enmeshed political spoils system to bits: the media complex, the political and party complex, the conservative poseur complex.” After a generation of Bush, McCain, Romney, Ryan, it’s little wonder that Donald Trump the billionaire outsider, with his ironic appeal to middle class heartland America, attracted the fed-up Republican voter longing for something other than Conservative Inc., that semi-disguised machine of progressivism with its only redeeming quality being its tendency to lurch left at a more modest pace than its more hasty Jacobin colleagues. But Donald Trump’s appeal is not just to traditional Republicans, many of whom were, have been, and remain the loudest voices of opposition to his person and program. Donald Trump fills stadiums all over flyover country because, unlike many of his testosterone challenged fellow GOPers, he gets America, that is he gets Americans (at least those who want Frankenstein off our backs). And make no mistake (despite the media’s preferred narrative): the Trump Revolution is not just white, male, and Republican. Donald Trump’s populist nationalism is for those of any color, creed, or assumed political affiliation who simply get the fact that “America” first does equal “government” first.
Discovering Van Halen in 1982 put me four years behind many, but also ahead of so many others who took longer, or worse, never figured it out. Like me, you may be buying this book four years late. But start now, and you’ll be ahead of others who take still longer, and immeasurably beyond those who never quite figure it out. If you want to understand the last four years, read this book. If, like millions of Americans you feel demoralized by spineless Republican leaders prematurely calling for Trump’s concession even in the midst of a questionable election outcome, then read this book. And perhaps most importantly, if you want a jumpstart on 2021 and knowing why tens of millions of Americans are never going back to quietly accepting the pre-Orange Man political status quo, then read this book. Those three reasons should be enough; read it for yourself and you’ll surely discover even more. Better late than never to the party.”