Struggling With ‘RIP GOP’

Why we should be suspicious of books that confirm what we already believe.

October 7, 2019

RIP GOP: How the New America Is Dooming the Republicans by Stanley B. Greenberg

Published in September 2019

If there was a gift of the 2016 election, it was to teach us the value of doubt.

From 2016 onward, the mark of intelligence is not certitude, but caution.

I wonder if our higher ed community has learned this lesson? We academics seem pretty sure of ourselves.

So what should we make of Stanley Greenberg’s RIP GOP?

Greenberg, a Harvard Ph.D. who was once denied tenure at Yale only to make millions as a demographic pollster and consultant, is absolutely certain that Trump will lose in 2020.

And not just Trump. Greenberg believes that the rest of the country is set to follow the California model. In California, Republicans are now irrelevant in statewide races.

The state of Nixon, Reagan and Schwarzenegger is now firmly in the hands of the Democrats.

For Greenberg, the embrace of Trump and the Tea Party Evangelicals will end up shattering the Republican Party. Both demographics and mainstream beliefs, argues Greenberg, are not on the Republicans’ side.

The growth of the millennial generation of the largest block of voters, coupled with an increasingly racially diverse electorate, will disqualify any antigovernment and anti-immigrant candidate. Greenberg is certain.

But will RIP GOP change anyone’s mind?

Most everything that Greenberg writes seems plausible to me. And that is the problem.

RIP GOP is not a book about the ideas that animate the Republican Party. It is a book about politics.

For most academics, I suspect that reading RIP GOP will prove a satisfying experience. This is a book that bolsters and supports what we already think we know.

RIP GOP will be less useful as a book to enable conversations between people who hold different political beliefs.

The book I want is one that will convince me to think critically about my moderate-to-liberal beliefs, or that could do the same for those of a more libertarian or conservative orientation.

We need books that challenge our thinking rather than provide us with evidence for the correctness of our views.

Can you recommend a book that might convince us that the future of politics will look more like Texas than California?

What are you reading?


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