Kressel Housman's Reviews > How the Right Lost Its Mind

How the Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes
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really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, presidents

Charlie Sykes is a Never Trump conservative talk show host from Wisconsin, but I first learned about him when he teamed up with NPR for a call-in show called “Indivisible” in which Americans across the political divide attempted to find common ground with one another. He promoted the book on the air, and with a title like that, who could possibly resist? (Tee hee.)

The book is an analysis of the crackpot theories that have invaded traditional conservatism, and Sykes hits all the spots you’d expect: the Moral Majority, Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, Fox News, InfoWars, and Breitbart. Of course, he shows how they all culminated in the presidency of Donald Trump, but because Sykes is a conservative himself, he has a different perspective than reporters in the "liberal" media, which is where I usually seek my information. He has seen more and more crackpot conspiracies emerging in his media diet, and he objects to how they’ve warped the conservative values he supports. He defends those values in this book. Just as he’s a Never Trumper, he was also a Never Hillary, and he’s a friend of (*shudder*) Paul Ryan.

The biggest insight I got out of this book builds on Michael Wolff’s recent revelation that the Trump team never intended to win the election. Sykes argues that many conservative media outlets and even some conservative PACs don’t really care about conservative policies. They care about ratings and donations. Just as sex is a sure sell, outrage keeps people tuned in, so as long as people’s buttons are being pushed, the audience is delivered to the corporate sponsors, and the PACs draw in their money. He claims that they underfund the actual candidates, but their directors' bank accounts are swelling. This is the real case of coastal elites reaping benefit at the expense of small town middle America. It's like what the televangelists did to believing Christians, except with political ideology. Meanwhile, these media outlets continue kowtowing to Donald Trump, in spite of his betrayal of conservative and even American values, because they’re too invested in him to call him out.

I recommend this book to liberals and conservatives alike. Liberals will gain from the differences in Sykes' perspective to ours, and conservatives, especially those who supported Trump and are now doubting him, might appreciate a return to the values they cherish from someone who seems never to have abandoned them.
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Reading Progress

July 31, 2017 – Shelved
July 31, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 9, 2018 – Started Reading
January 15, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction
January 15, 2018 – Shelved as: presidents
January 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

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