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Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots)
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Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  41 reviews
From a leading voice among young conservatives, an impassioned argument that to stay relevant the Republican Party must look beyond short-term electoral gains and re-commit to historic conservative values.

In 1963 Richard Hofstadter published his landmark book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Today, Matt Lewis argues, America's inclination toward simplicity and stupid
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Hachette Books
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  229 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Kristjan Wager
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I went into the book, which has gotten rave reviews, wanting to be sympathetic to the message - Lewis is trying to address the dumbing down of the GOP - but I must say that I am disappointed.

The book has several major flaws:
- It never addresses the money men behind the current GOP (the Koch brothers and others)
- It never addresses the underlying fact that when asked about their stance on single issues, the wast majority on US voters are closer to the Democratic Party than the GOP
- Every time he
Despite the aforementioned flaws (most notably on climate change and science) I DO think this is an worthwhile read. Easy to read with some bold and valid points apropos for the current disgraceful election, I found the overall message to "get smart" to be timely and on point. I was between 2-3 stars on this, but found myself giving 3 because I believe books like this are a start. Like many voters, I feel it's important to read an alternative viewpoint which is why I picked up this book. Lewis w ...more
Seth Millstein
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
The basic purpose of this book is to help save the Republican Party from self-destruction. As a liberal, I'm not terribly invested in this goal, but I read the book anyway, because Matt Lewis is one of my favorite conservative political writers and I was interested in hearing his take on the party's problems.

As far as the diagnoses goes, Lewis is basically on-point. He accurately notes that the Republican Party has given outsized power to some of the most destructive elements within the conserva
Mathew Whitney
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections is a book by Matt K. Lewis analyzing how the conservative movement in the United States has come to be in its current state (especially within the Republican Party). I received this book through a giveaway on Goodreads.

As someone who grew up in a conservative home, in a conservative town, which happens to be a suburb of a relatively conservative city, in the not-so-conservative state of California, I had some expectati
Josh Waters
Well Written; Solid Insights; good game plan for future.

Very easy to read and understand where the conservative movement currently is, how we got here, and how to make sure the movement lasts in the future. A good overview for the political enthusiast. An underlying tension seemed to run throughout of the "modernization not moderation" theory. It seemed that some of the thoughts were more on becoming more moderate in the goal of modernization. Seemed to lack much discussion or reflection on the
Jim Serger
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well written book, just in time for the general elections running, to commence. Thought provoking.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I found this book disappointing, as it failed to deliver on its promise to explain how the contemporary conservatives had deviated from orthodoxy. The primary reason for this failing is that the author never attempts to define or explain 'conservative.' Instead, we only get examples of supposedly conservative historical figures. Aristotle, we are told, is a conservative thinker because he considers the polis to be a natural phenomenon rather than artificial. Aquinas is conservative because he wa ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I make it a goal to stay away from books on politics. In fact, the only reason I picked up this one was because it was recommended by Dr. Russell Moore, whom I deeply respect (see my review of his book "Onward"). I'm glad I did, because it has helped explain so much of what I'm seeing in this year's race for the presidency. In his book, Matt Lewis (a conservative journalist) offers a very insightful and helpful critique of the current state of the Republican Party, showing how a conservative mov ...more
Sean Blevins
Turns out, conservatives are no longer conservatives.

In Lewis' analysis, the GOP has abandoned wisdom, prudence, and foresight in favor or anger, self-gratification, and short-term thinking. One doesn't need to look beyond the 2016 crop of GOP presidential candidates to see it. This is useful for conservatives, enjoyable by liberals, and valuable for all invested in the political process.

Lewis points specifically to the GOPs embrace of rural, evangelical, populist platform and it's abandonment o
Joe James
Oct 13, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's a very poorly written book. Perhaps I wasn't the targeted audience, but all in all the author participates in a lot of speculation and revisionist history. He seems very critical of hacks in the conservative movement and how they've dumbed down the electorate (or what have you) when he himself can't seem to humanize Democrats or make a caricature of them (for instance whenever he mentions Jimmy Carter he always mentions he's a Peanut farmer, why do this other than to wink wink nod at his co ...more
Kristi Richardson
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Edmund Burke

I firmly believe that you cannot be a political animal and not read what the opposition is writing. I must admit that some pundits I can only read so much and then I have to put it away, because it is not based on facts or ideas but on vitriol and stirring things up by repeating falsehoods. This book by Matt K. Lewis is not like these others. I read it all the way through and enjoyed it for the
Sean Hackbarth
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Matt Lewis offers remedies to an intellectually flabby ideology.

He takes us on an intellectual journey to the beginning of conservatism with Edmund Burke through Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush. Then he brings us into the present full of bad comedians, talk radio yappers, and populist candidates possessing thin amounts of political wisdom. Lewis also delves into the Con$ervative Movement of consultants and professional activists where skimming a percentage off
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a free book giveaway through a Goodreads Giveaway published by Hachette Book Group (IPG) and by Betsy Hulsebosch. Thanks to all for an informative read.
It is important for our country to maintain a healthy two-party system of government. Matt Lewis has some very good ideas for how the Republican Party can overcome some of its weaknesses. I am a moderate who wishes that Republicans and Democrats weren't so polarized. A very interesting and thought provoking read. I would recom
Hannah Walden
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and the timing could not be better! Lewis perfectly depicts how the Republican Party has strayed away from successful Reagan Era tactics over the past few years. His suggestions for the Republican Party are not only insightful but clearly display Lewis' experience and research. Absolutely worth the read.
Richard Sansing
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book right after reading E.J. Dionne's Why the Right went Wrong. Dionne, a liberal, argues that Republicans should be more moderate. Lewis, a conservative, argues that they should be more modern. I am more sympathetic to Lewis's argument.
Phillip W.
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A worthy call to action for conservatives to rediscover their first principles, learn them deeply, and engage intelligently. Matt Lewis has done an extraordinary thing in saying something that needs to be said: the conservative movement has grown corrupt, insular, and intellectually vacuous.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book about the mess that is the Republican party and the conservative movement. Although Lewis undermines his argument by talking so much about religion, 90 percent of this book is spot-on. The conservative movement has become a racket taken over by carnival barkers and reality TV stars.
Burky Ford
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
On page 52.
KC Davis
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable read. Lewis nailed the disconnect between what the GOP claims it wants to be, and what it's actually become in recent decades.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really good. I don't read a lot of books like this but I'm glad I read this one.
Jim Blessing
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
Decent book, the Introduction was the best part. I've been rooting for this group to fail!
Mark Pace
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important read for any political junkie and well-timed in regards to the 2016 election.
While most understand the importance of Reagan and the great things he did in regards to American history and politics, the book is very Reagan heavy and over glorifies the man. Lewis is also another person who is quick to put blame on the all-encompassing term "the media," without citing any real examples or explaining exactly who or what he is criticizing. Ironically, it's something commonly done by the
Budd Margolis
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: trump-era
Primarily a good brief historic review, as well as current background to the development of the Republican conservative movement and some thoughts on possible solutions for the party tp regain its core soul.

Some cheap shots as well as a few good ideas and some lessons for both parties.

But the real and unaddressed problem is the Republican party has been hijacked and can't control much. Trump can't speak without uttering nonsense and there is a battle between Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus for c
Dave McAllister
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this if you're caught in the liberal echo chamber!
Patrick Bair
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
I think much of the criticism in these pages is misplaced when it takes the author to task for not mentioning traditionally "liberal" issues like climate change. Certainly I disagree with most of what he writes; but the author is an evangelical Republican columnist and a devoted follower of the Church of St Ronnie, folks! The best we could expect, and IMHO he did deliver, was a fairly rational critique of his own party. Writings by partisan advocates these days are pretty hard to swallow, but I ...more
Mark Pace
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important read for any political junkie and well-timed in regards to the 2016 election.
While most understand the importance of Reagan and the great things he did in regards to American history and politics, the book is very Reagan heavy and over glorifies the man. Lewis is also another person who is quick to put blame on the all-encompassing term "the media," without citing any real examples or explaining exactly who or what he is criticizing. Ironically, it's something commonly done by the
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it
There is much good advice and perspective here from Matt. But given current events it feels a little too simple and comfortable. His basic argument reads like a call for a renewed fusionism but translated into policies and appeals that can reach beyond rural, white, married Americans. I agree that the GOP must reach beyond shrinking demographics. I also agree that it should avoid angry, vulgar, shallow politics and seek a renewed thoughtfulness and humility (all aspects of Matt's advice).

But in
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know whether Matt Lewis could have chosen a more perfect time to release this book. The GOP has undergone substantial change in recent years; the rise of populism has led to a smothering of the intellectual roots associated with the philosophy of conservatism. Unlike many others, Lewis provides an optimistic view and a strong call to return to greatness. Instead of suggesting we toss leaders such as Hayek, Burke, Goldwater, and Weaver out the door like too many have done, Lewis reminds u ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book by Matt Lewis! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and consumed it in only a couple days, which is hard to do with a toddler and baby! It is a very relevant book to this day and age. The Republican party looks on the verge of a breakdown. Politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are out for themselves and as a culture we need to take back our party. Matt Lewis explains that politics flow down stream of society and our culture and we need to start bringing our conservative ideas to big ...more
Wesley Roth
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Matt Lewis does a pretty good job walking the reader through of the history of conservatism to the present. What is conservatism? He brilliantly summarizes: "In the beginning conservatism was smart. It can be again. Part of the problem is that conservatism today is too often defined by what it is not. It's anti-tax, anti-big government, or anti-abortion. This framing, unfortunately, fails to capture the positive attributes of conservatism or its fundamental worldview ... [Conservatism] is about ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Subtitle change 2 13 Sep 29, 2016 03:25PM  
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Matt Lewis is an American political analyst and reporter, currently with The Daily Caller.
“Conservatism is about conserving the good things about Western civilization. It’s about a rejection of utopian schemes and moral relativism—a humble acceptance that life is too complex for elites to plan. It’s the belief that Western civilization didn’t merely happen, but was instead the result of the accumulated wisdom of our ancestors. It’s about a realization that Western civilization and its institutions evolved naturally, and that long-standing traditions must be preserved.” 0 likes
“This brings to mind the G. K. Chesterton quote: “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.” 0 likes
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