Book Name: It Was All a Lie Book Epub
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Language: English
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Stuart Stevens worked for decades to get Republicans elected at every level, from presidents to senators to city council members. He knows the GOP better than anyone else in the United States, and in his new book, he paints a devastating picture of a party that has lost its moral and political direction.

This is not a book about how Donald J. Trump took over and changed the Republican Party. Stevens shows that Trump is the natural result of 50 years of hypocrisy and self-delusion, starting with the civil rights laws of the early 1960s. Stevens shows that racism has always been a part of the modern GOP, from Goldwater’s opposition to desegregation to Ronald Reagan’s talk about welfare queens and states’ rights. He talks about how the party’s claims to represent “family values” are false. He also shows how the party’s much-touted commitment to fiscal responsibility has been a lie since the 1980s. He says that when a party doesn’t stand for anything, it’s natural that the loudest and most angry people in the room will take over.

It Was All a Lie is not just an attack on the Republican Party but also an honest, often painful admission of guilt. Stevens isn’t asking for sympathy or forgiveness; he’s just telling us what he’s seen with his own eyes. He helped make the modern party that bows down to a con man with no morals, and now all he wants is for what it has become to be burned down.

Editorial Reviews

“In his bare-knuckles account, Stevens confesses to the reader that the entire apparatus of his Republican Party is built on a pack of lies… This reckoning inspired Stevens to publish this blistering, tell-all history… Although this book will be a hard read for any committed conservatives, they would do well to ponder it.”
—Julian E. Zelizer, The New York Times

“This book will become an important reference volume for future historians trying to explain what happened to the Republican Party in the second half of the 20th century and the Trump era. It takes someone with Stuart Stevens’ insights as a writer to see this story and deliver it to us the way he has.”
—Lawrence O’Donnell

“Stuart Stevens has written a brilliant book. Stop whatever you are doing. Order it on Amazon.”
—Nicolle Wallace

“A sustained attack… Refreshingly frank.”
—The Guardian

“Washington in 2020 often beggars belief: an American President answering a deadly pandemic with ignorance, inflaming racial unrest with racism, stoking violent confrontations while his fearful party stands mute… What if the accounting comes from one of the Republican Party’s most accomplished political strategists, an insider provoked by Trump to reconsider his life’s work? It has. Stevens dissects several categories of deception. Though he could not have anticipated it — the book, completed last September, does not include the words “coronavirus” or “George Floyd” — events of recent days keep offering improbably-vivid evidence for his assessments.

“A blistering attack on the modern Republican Party and its wholesale surrender to Donald Trump… His willingness to tell the truth should serve as a model for the mea culpa that Republicans who enabled Trump’s corruption, norm-shattering, and immorality owe us.”
—Michael A. Cohen, The Boston Globe

“An epitaph, of interest to all politics junkies, for a formerly venerable party by a champion-turned-gravedigger.”

Who Wrote It?

STUART STEVENS has written seven books, and his work has been published in places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Esquire, and Outside. He has written for many TV shows, like Northern Exposure, Commander in Chief, and K Street. He was in charge of strategy and the media for some of the most brutal political campaigns in the country for 25 years. He attended Colorado College, Pembroke College in Oxford, Middlebury College, and UCLA. He used to work for the American Film Institute as a fellow.


1: Racism, the first Republican sin

You start in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, it was hurtful to say “nigger.” Backfires. So you talk about things like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that other nonsense.
—Lee Atwater, 1981

In my first race, I used the race card.

It was 1978, and my first client in Mississippi was running for Congress. He was called Jon Hinson. He was the chief of staff for Thad Cochran, a Mississippi congressman now running for the Senate. (Back then, the top staffers were called “administrative assistants” or “A.A.s.” However, as the government became less about service and more about getting the next job, “A.A.” started to sound too much like “secretary,” so “chief of staff” became more common. What lobbying firm wants to pay $500,000 for a former A.A.?) I was a page in Hinson’s congressional office in high school, and I kept in touch by going to the office when I went to Washington, D.C.

Hinson was running against the son of Senator John Stennis, a well-known Democrat from Mississippi and a senator. People thought the son, John Hampton Stennis, a state representative, would win easily. Hinson called me while I was in film school at UCLA and asked if I could make T.V. ads for his campaign. I told him I didn’t know how to make commercials because I only made silly short films and couldn’t sell my scripts. He said, “That doesn’t matter.” “You have to do it. I don’t have enough money to pay anyone who does this.” In hindsight, this was not the best way to make your case. But like everyone else who went to film school, I was eager to get out and do something, even if it had nothing to do with movies, so I said yes.

I was one of those kids who loved politics and campaigns. Since the “William Winter for Governor” campaign in Mississippi in 1967, I have walked precincts. Winter ran against John Bell Williams, the last open segregationist to be elected governor, and the race was full of death threats and excitement. Winter lost, but I became interested in politics and repeatedly read Making of the President, 1960, by Teddy White. It seemed like a strange and exciting world, and when I left film school and started working on the Hinson campaign, I immediately felt at home. There was a sense that what they were doing might be necessary. I told myself that I could make a little history if I created the right ad. It was a tiny piece of history—a congressional seat in Mississippi—but it seemed much more important than student films and arguing about the best opening camera move in movies. We were losing, and that was the only problem.

Stennis was a big deal in Mississippi, so he was the obvious choice when his name was on the ballot. Hinson was right when he said he couldn’t afford to hire anyone because no one thought he would win. We got some money, put up some positive ads, and moved into second place, where we stayed. The problem was that about 30% of the people in Hinson’s congressional district, which included a lot of Jackson, Mississippi, and Vicksburg, were black, and Hinson was getting less than 10% of those votes.

Thad Cochran had the same problem in his campaign for the Senate. Since Reconstruction, no Republican had won statewide office in Mississippi. This was mainly because there wasn’t much of a Republican Party there. Cochran had won a congressional race against a very weak Democrat and then relied on being an incumbent to win easy races. Still, every other member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation was a Democrat. In his race for the Senate, Cochran had a significant advantage: his opponent, Charles Evers, was the brother of the civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was killed. Charles Evers was running as an independent. It wasn’t a surprise that he was getting a lot of votes from African Americans. Since most of the black vote went to a third-party candidate, the Republicans and the Democrats mostly had to compete for white voters. And Cochran was winning that fight. He was a young lawyer from Jackson who was liked by people and had a lot of support in the district he used to represent. Even though Evers could not win, he helped Cochran gain first place.

We needed a similar dynamic in the Hinson campaign, where an independent African-American would pull black votes away from the Democrat. Evan Doss Jr., a thirty-year-old African American, had met the requirements to run for the congressional seat as an independent. He wasn’t as well-known as Charles Evers, so few people, even in the black community, knew he was running. So I did what should have been done: I made ads that showed the Republican, the Democrat, and Evan Doss, who was running as an independent. I did it like a public service announcement: “Three candidates are running for the Fourth Congressional District.” I put their names and pictures on the screen. “The Republican pick is Jon Hinson. The Democrat candidate is John Hampton Stennis. Evan Doss is running as an independent, and if he wins, he will be the first African American to be elected to Congress in Mississippi since Reconstruction.

That’s all. I thought it was very clever, and it didn’t bother me in any way that felt like “playing the race card.” What could be wrong with telling people what their options are? And it worked like a charm. Hinson won the election with 51.6% of the vote. John Hampton Stennis came in second with 26.4%, and Evan Doss came in third with 19%. Every vote for Doss would have been a vote for Stennis. Without the black independence, Hinson might have won in the end, but it would have been very, very close.

In my first race, I found something as fundamental and unchangeable as the fact that water freezes below 32 degrees. Fahrenheit: race was the key to a lot of American politics, and it was the key to all southern politics. It was effortless to understand: for the Democratic candidate to win, they needed more than 90% of black votes. If many people chose a third party, the Republicans would win.

This was only sometimes the case. Before 1964, African Americans usually voted between 30 and 40 percent for the Republican presidential candidate. In 1956, Dwight Eisenhower got 39% of the vote. Richard Nixon campaigned with Jackie Robinson four years later, winning 32% of black voters. Barry Goldwater was against the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and only 7 percent of black people voted for him. Since 1964, no Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 17% of the vote from African American voters. By 2016, only 3% of African American voters said they were Republicans.

Politics is a lot like a marketplace in many ways. Candidates and parties quickly figure out what works and what doesn’t, and they focus their time, energy, and money on the part of the market that pollsters say they can persuade or motivate. Since 1964, Republicans have learned that getting black voters to vote for them is hard. It’s not that most campaigns didn’t try at least a little, but they always did, knowing that getting to 10% would be a big deal.

What happens if you spend decades trying to win over white voters and, at best, ignoring people of other races? You learn how to do what it takes to get white voters to vote for you. The famous “southern strategy” came about because of this truth. This is how to become what the Republican Party is now proud to be: a party for white people with complaints.

For as long as I’ve been involved in politics as an adult, I’ve heard Republicans say that our problems with black voters were because of “how” we talked to the “minority community.” The Republican Party has hired a cottage industry of black consultants to help candidates, campaigns, and elected officials figure out how to talk to African Americans. This is as if the party couldn’t return to being the party of Abraham Lincoln because of a language barrier. It’s all nonsense, and black voters get that its nonsense.

African Americans don’t vote for Republicans because of how they use words or phrases. It has to do with rules. It’s not how Republicans talk to black voters that make 90 percent or more of them decide not to vote for them. It’s what the Republicans do when they get into office. The Republican establishment’s strong belief in the myth that their problems are all about language is telling and hurts them in the long run. At its core is a deep sense of superiority that they, the de facto White Party of America, know what’s best for black people. It’s a shame that black people don’t seem to get it, but they are different, and we need to talk to them in a way they can understand.

The opposite is true. Since 1964, black voters have had an obvious idea of what the Republican Party says and, more importantly, what Republicans do when they are in power. In Dog Whistle Politics by Ian Haney López, there’s a chapter called “The GOP’s Rise as ‘the White Man’s Party.'” It says it all: “In 1962, both parties were seen as equally, if lukewarmly, supportive of civil rights. Two years later, however, 60 percent of the public saw Democrats as more likely to fight for fair treatment, while only 7 percent saw Republicans as more likely to do so. Barry Goldwater ran for office with a carefully crafted racist platform that went against his past support for civil rights laws. In the 1978 book Emerging Coalitions in American Politics, written by Walter De Vries and Jack Bass,

Barry Goldwater’s speech to a group of Southern Republicans in Atlanta in 1961 showed that the Republicans had decided to use the race issue and give up on being a party of reform. “The black vote won’t come together in 1964 and 1968, so we should go hunting where the ducks are,” he said. Goldwater then made it clear, saying that integrating schools was “the job of the states.” I don’t want my party to think that it is up to the federal government to ensure that schools are integrated.

The “ducks” were white voters, and in 1964, five of the six states Goldwater won were in the old Confederacy (the other being his home state of Arizona). In 1964, the support of African Americans for Republicans dropped off a cliff and has never come back. As support for Republicans drops among Hispanics and other people of color, I hear many in the party tell themselves that it’s only temporary and that the party will “bounce back” as soon as the “right” leader comes along. That’s a fantasy of hope, as the year 1964 shows.

In my first race for Congress, Jon Hinson beat the son of Senator Stennis. This was seen as an upset in the national political world. I was surprised to find candidates who wanted to hire me to make T.V. ads for their campaigns. I ended up becoming a political consultant because of this. I learned that I could work on campaigns briefly and then write books and articles during the off-season. At the time, no one was willing to pay me much to write, so it was an easy way to make a living doing seasonal work, which was like migrant labor work but more accessible inside.

A few years later, I helped a young Florida banker named Connie Mack run for Congress for the first time. He was running in a new district in Florida near Fort Myers that was made to be a safe seat for Republicans. The Republican primary was the most challenging part of his campaign. After that, it seemed clear that he would win the general election. He ended up winning with 65% of the vote. It was a predominantly white district, but for some reason, the Republican National Committee sent down an African American consultant to teach the campaign and candidate how to best appeal to black voters. It was called a “crucial” meeting, and there was a lot of drumming in Washington.

I was still young enough to think there might be a secret language we could learn to win over at least a large number of black voters. We ran our campaign out of a simple storefront. It made me think of scenes from Teddy White’s book Making of the President. Every time I walked into it, I felt like one of White’s characters, playing out in my head the drama of being behind in the West Virginia primary when Kennedy beat Humphrey. It made the project seem much more significant than just an ordinary election of a friendly banker who mainly ran because he was bored and had a name that older snowbirds in the district still remembered. Connie Mack’s grandfather and namesake ran the Philadelphia Athletics for the first fifty years. Our pollster, Arthur Finkelstein, was a crazy genius who was good at getting hard-right candidates as Jesse Helms elected. During one poll briefing, he told Connie, “Every time an ambulance goes by, you lose a voter.”

We were called to a small conference room in a nearby hotel for this important meeting with the African American consultant. The meeting lasted all day and was catered. I had never been to a meeting where food was provided. Connie, his wife, and the RNC consultant met with our small staff. He looked great in a stylish suit and a blue shirt with a white collar. He was wearing Gucci loafers, which I wouldn’t have known if one of the young staff members, who was gay, hadn’t said later that they were nice shoes, even though he didn’t like them. (Almost every Republican campaign I worked on had many gay staffers. More gay staffers seemed to work for more conservative candidates. There appears to be a strong link between how conservative a Republican candidate is and how many gay staffers they have. I could say with some certainty in a later campaign, when the staff was talking about the candidate’s sexual orientation, “I don’t think our guy is conservative enough to be gay.” The point was agreed upon, and I later heard a young press worker trying to explain this to a confused reporter who, thank God, did not quote him.)


Table of contents :

Also by Stuart Stevens
Title Page
Epigraph Prologue: It Was All a Lie

1 Race, the Original Republican Sin
2 Family Values
3 The Long Con
4 Confederacy of Dunces
5 Machinery of Deception
6 What Are They Afraid Of?
7 The Anti-American Patriots
8 The Empire’s Last Stand
9 How Do Lies End?

A Note About the Author


It Was All a Lie Epub

Author(s): Stuart Stevens

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Year: 2020

ISBN: 2019048755,9780525658450


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