Warning that the Trump presidency presages America’s decline, the political commentator recounts his extraordinary journey from lifelong Republican to vehement Trump opponent.
As nativism, xenophobia, vile racism, and assaults on the rule of law threaten the very fabric of our nation, The Corrosion of Conservatism presents an urgent defense of American democracy.
Pronouncing Mexican immigrants to be “rapists,” Donald Trump announced his 2015 presidential bid, causing Max Boot to think he was watching a dystopian science-fiction movie. The respected conservative historian couldn’t fathom that the party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan could endorse such an unqualified reality-TV star. Yet the Twilight Zone episode that Boot believed he was watching created an ideological dislocation so shattering that Boot’s transformation from Republican foreign policy adviser to celebrated anti-Trump columnist becomes the dramatic story of The Corrosion of Conservatism.
No longer a Republican, but also not a Democrat, Boot here records his ideological journey from a “movement” conservative to a man without a party, beginning with his political coming-of-age as a young émigré from the Soviet Union, enthralled with the National Review and the conservative intellectual tradition of Russell Kirk and F. A. Hayek. Against this personal odyssey, Boot simultaneously traces the evolution of modern American conservatism, jump-started by Barry Goldwater’s canonical The Conscience of a Conservative, to the rise of Trumpism and its gradual corrosion of what was once the Republican Party.
While 90 percent of his fellow Republicans became political “toadies” in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Boot stood his ground, enduring the vitriol of his erstwhile conservative colleagues, trolled on Twitter by a white supremacist who depicted his “execution” in a gas chamber by a smiling, Nazi-clad Trump. And yet, Boot nevertheless remains a villain to some partisan circles for his enduring commitment to conservative fiscal and national security principles. It is from this isolated position, then, that Boot launches this bold declaration of dissent and its urgent plea for true, bipartisan cooperation.
With uncompromising insights, The Corrosion of Conservatism evokes both a president who has traduced every norm and the rise of a nascent centrist movement to counter Trump’s assault on democracy.
In this memoir-manifesto, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Boot (The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam) frankly explores his tumultuous relationship with the Republican Party, likening it to "a tale of first love, marriage, growing disenchantment, and, eventually, a heartbreaking divorce." Boot, a Jewish immigrant from the Soviet Union, describes the journey from the beginnings of his career at the Wall Street Journal through positions at the Weekly Standard and Commentary to his current role as a loud Trump critic at the Washington Post and on CNN. Due to his moral horror at the rhetoric and policies of Donald Trump and his supporters, the author has finally turned his back on the only political party he ever identified with, as well as on many of the conservative beliefs he first formulated as a young reader of National Review in the 1980s. While he considers the Democratic Party as a necessary buffer to Trump in the next few elections, Boot refuses to completely give up on conservatism. Instead, he envisions a future for American politics that includes a centrist party led by an Eisenhower-like figure for disillusioned center-left and center-right voters alienated by the extremists in power. Boot's passionate and principled stand against alleged tyranny will resonate with many readers disillusioned with the state of contemporary politics.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Introspection Makes this book worth reading
I have read a few books by Never-trumpers. What makes this book valuable is that Max Boot has taken the time to be self-critical. Boot used for a party line conservative Republican. He has left the Republican party because itemized Trump. He is a tough critic of his former self, but his writing is excellent. The effort is successful because Boot has learned from his experience.
The Corrosion of Conservatism
For someone who was never Trump until you voted for him on Election Day 2016, please be honest and open minded as you read this.. I am a center left Democrat and I find the view of the writer after reading this book very similar to my own.
Never an activist in politics I find myself preparing to cast, in just a few weeks, straight ticket votes for the Democratic candidates for Governor and whatever legislative offices are on the ballot in my state...I don't really care who they are. Always a Republican voter it is not Trump so much as the very collapse of courage, honor, reason, and principle among the candidates and office holders in the Republican Party that has alienated me forever. The Libertarian vote I cast for President in the general election was my statement at the time....like the author, I had no idea the rest of the party was so completely gutless.