The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress But Surrendered the White House

Thomas F. Schaller. Yale, $32.50 (368p) ISBN 978-0-300-17203-4
Political scientist and Baltimore Sun columnist Schaller (Whistling Past Dixie) charts the factionalism and internal schisms of the Republican Party in an astute and engaging manner, from the disappearance of moderate and liberals to the rise of a "xenophobic fringe" that consistently wins congressional races but alienates the electorate in presidential contests. While the topic of the modern GOP's rightward drift is nothing new, Schaller's explains the complex political history with plenty of nuance but largely without academic jargon. He persuasively argues that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, architect of the 1994 "Contract With America, had a "more lasting impact on the party than any other Republican, including Ronald Reagan" by making loathing of government a core principle. Schaller also lays out a case that simple majority control of the House of Representatives gives the Republicans enough power to govern, if sometimes only as "the party of no," without being forced to confront shifting national demographics in which a predominantly white male vote is no longer sufficient. Schaller's solution for the party's long-term survival—embracing effective state governors as less extreme candidates—is not novel, but he shows that if it does not happen, the GOP will weaken further still. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/24/2014
Release date: 01/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-300-17204-1
Open Ebook - 369 pages - 978-0-300-21077-4
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