Empire of Resentment: Populism’s Toxic Embrace of Nationalism

Lawrence Rosenthal. New Press, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62097-510-7
Rosenthal (coeditor, Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party), the chair of U.C. Berkeley’s Center for Right-Wing Studies, dissects the migration of America’s “right-wing populists” from the Tea Party to Donald Trump in this cogent and troubling account. During the 2016 campaign, Rosenthal writes, Trump rode anti-immigrant sentiment to harness the anger of rank-and-file voters who felt they had been betrayed by the Republican establishment during the Obama years. Along the way, the fiscal conservatism that drove the Tea Party movement was left curbside as Trump abandoned neoconservative policies on free trade and foreign affairs. Rosenthal finds parallels to Trump’s presidency in the rise of Italian fascism, early 20th-century nationalistic movements, and illiberal governments in present-day Eastern Europe. The populist nationalism behind Trump’s appeal and similar developments in Hungary, Poland, and Russia, Rosenthal contends, is driven by opposition to the “common other” (immigrants and refugees) and the forging of a “common identity” in traditional values, religion, and “whiteness.” While he stops short of saying that the U.S. is currently threatened by a fascist takeover, Rosenthal is not sanguine about the nation’s future prospects, hypothesizing about the dangers that a populist leader more competent than Trump would present. Rosenthal’s incendiary claims are supported with copious evidence. Frightening and informative, this lucid exposé makes a strong case that American democracy is under threat. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/22/2020
Release date: 06/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-62097-511-4
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