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It Was All a Lie
Cover of It Was All a Lie
It Was All a Lie
How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the most successful Republican political operative of his generation, a searing, unflinching, and deeply personal exposé of how his party became...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the most successful Republican political operative of his generation, a searing, unflinching, and deeply personal exposé of how his party became...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the most successful Republican political operative of his generation, a searing, unflinching, and deeply personal exposé of how his party became what it is today

    “A blistering tell-all history. In his bare-knuckles account, Stevens confesses [that] the entire apparatus of his Republican Party is built on a pack of lies." —The New York Times


    Stuart Stevens spent decades electing Republicans at every level, from presidents to senators to local officials. He knows the GOP as intimately as anyone in America, and in this new book he offers a devastating portrait of a party that has lost its moral and political compass.

    This is not a book about how Donald J. Trump hijacked the Republican Party and changed it into something else. Stevens shows how Trump is in fact the natural outcome of five decades of hypocrisy and self-delusion, dating all the way back to the civil rights legislation of the early 1960s. Stevens shows how racism has always lurked in the modern GOP's DNA, from Goldwater's opposition to desegregation to Ronald Reagan's welfare queens and states' rights rhetoric. He gives an insider's account of the rank hypocrisy of the party's claims to embody "family values," and shows how the party's vaunted commitment to fiscal responsibility has been a charade since the 1980s. When a party stands for nothing, he argues, it is only natural that it will be taken over by the loudest and angriest voices in the room.

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  • From the cover 1
     
    Race, The Original Republican Sin
     
    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.
    —Lee Atwater, 1981
     
    I played the race card in my very first race.

    It was 1978 and my first client was running for Congress in Mississippi. His name was Jon Hinson. He had been chief of staff to a Mississippi congressman named Thad Cochran, who was now running for the Senate. (Actually, back then they called the head staffers “administrative assistants,” or AAs, but as government became more about positioning for that next job and less about service, that sounded too much like “secretaries,” so the more elevated “chief of staff” became common. What lobbying shop wants to pay $500,000 for a former AA?) In high school I had been a page when Hinson ran the congressional office, and I’d kept in touch when visiting the office on trips to D.C.
     
    Hinson was running against the son of Senator John Stennis, a Mississippi icon of the Democratic Party. The son, John Hampton Stennis, was a state representative, and it was assumed he would win easily. I was in film school then at UCLA, and Hinson called and asked if I could make television commercials for his campaign. I told him I didn’t know how to make commercials, that I just made silly little films and wrote scripts I couldn’t sell. “That doesn’t matter,” he said. “You have to do it. I can’t afford to pay anyone who does this for real.” In retrospect, this might not have been the most compelling pitch. But like anyone who has gone to film school, I was eager to get out and actually do something even vaguely related to film, so I said yes.
     
    I’d been one of those kids who loved politics and campaigns and had walked precincts since the 1967 “William Winter for Governor” campaign in Mississippi. Winter ran against the last avowed segregationist to be elected governor, John Bell Williams, and it was a race full of death threats and drama. Winter lost, but I fell in love with politics and read Teddy White’s Making of the President, 1960 over and over. It seemed a strange and intoxicating world, and when I left film school and started working in the Hinson campaign, I instantly felt at home. There was this sense of doing something that might actually matter. If I came up with the right ad, I might make a little history—or at least that’s what I told myself. It was the tiniest bit of history—a Mississippi congressional seat—but it seemed infinitely more consequential than student films and debating what was the greatest opening camera move in cinema. The only problem was we were losing.
     
    Stennis was a towering figure in Mississippi, and his name on the ballot was the obvious default choice for voters. Hinson was right when he said he couldn’t afford to hire anyone, because no one thought he would win and for good reason. We raised some money, put up a few positive ads, and moved comfortably into second place, which is where we seemed stuck. The problem was that the congressional district, which included a lot of Jackson, Mississippi, and Vicksburg, was around 30 percent African American and, true to form, Hinson was getting less than 10 percent of that vote.
     
    Thad Cochran was facing the same problem in his Senate race. No Republican had been elected statewide in Mississippi since Reconstruction, mostly because there really...

About the Author-

  • STUART STEVENS is the author of seven previous books, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, and Outside, among other publications. He has written extensively for television shows, including Northern Exposure, Commander in Chief, and K Street. For twenty-five years, he was the lead strategist and media consultant for some of the nation's toughest political campaigns. He attended Colorado College; Pembroke College, Oxford; Middlebury College; and UCLA film school. He is a former fellow of the American Film Institute.

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