Conservative Christian columnist Steve Deace (pronounced “Dayce”) is more willing to die on the hill of Evangelical principles than most conservative pundits. He has also targeted the GOP “establishment” as his archenemies which he rightly sees as often more dangerous to liberty than liberals themselves. For these reasons, his recent book, Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again, seems promising.
I told Steve I would write a review. Steve knows my work quit well, and has had me on his show several times. He’s no dummy. Altogether, I have to assume he knew what he was at stake when Joel McDurmon to review his book. All else said, he’s a brave man. So here goes:
As conservative movement books go, I would give it a 7 out of 10. As books in general go, I am very hard to please, so 7 out of 10 even within is single genre is good. There is much good in the book—particularly in the way of entertaining criticism of the GOP establishment, and memorable aphorisms in regard to the conservative movement in general.
As a note to my readers, Steve is a not Theonomist, Christian Reconstructionist, or Postmillennialist. While displaying biblical values in places, from my perpective there are places he should go that he does not, there are some associations overplayed (in my opinion) for their Christian prowess, and Steve’s view of the future is not as explicit as I would want it.
Perhaps most importantly for this subject, however, Steve is attempting to take a lead role attacking the rotten compromises of the GOP establishment (“Republicrats” as he calls them). He is in a good position, nationally syndicated, to do this. But in several places, he is not free from the same inner contradictions that plague traditional Republicanism in general. As such, the book is filled with tough talk in some important areas, but shy silence in the face of others.
Overall, I would argue the book is worth certainly reading for conservatives in general. Theprinciples promoted are good ones. But if readers are confirmed in the hard stances Deace takes, they need to progress beyond the points where Deace stops in taking them. I hope to show you some of these in a combination of agreements and criticisms I have in this full book review.
Blueprints and tactics
The book’s foreword is written by David Limbaugh. David’s perspective is helpful, but he makes a mistake by describing the book as “a blueprint for victory” and “brilliantly strategic.” Despite the good in the book, it is neither a blueprint, brilliant, or strategic. It gives tactical principles for engaging in conservative dialogue and advancing the message, but not much beyond that. It is not a “blueprint”—it does not say what exactly needs to be done nor lay out such a plan of action—and thus it cannot be considered strategic either. Strategy is a long-term plan of action. Tactics are practical tools and principles employed within such a plan. Strategy is about what, tactics are about how.
Not to make too much of that distinction, but Deace himself dispels any doubt in his Introduction. He writes,
Lots of books, blogs, and talk radio programs are done by conservatives each day discussing what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and who should do it.
In regard to what is to be done, I am almost certain he was referring to my own Restoring America One County at a Time (wink)—but perhaps I am reading too much into it. But then he adds,
Unfortunately, there’s very little done on how to do it. Until now.
So it’s not a book about what so much as how, like I said.
But even there, the how tends to be limited to principles of communication, and not so much practical life applications, and even less so about which side is right on particular issues that divide the compromised GOP establishment from the “principled” GOP base and activists (though Deace does address a few of these). Even then, however, some of the principles are broad generalities. I won’t list them all, but they are all similar in nature: “Never trust Republicrats,” “Never accept the premise of your opponent’s argument,” “Stay on message,” “Play Offense.”
Good solid stuff. But that’s a problem in itself: most conservatives, even establishment types, would—and already do—agree with most of Deace’s “ten commandments.” The problem lies in how we apply them, when and where, and when not.
Pro-Life with no exceptions
Deace’s “stand on principle” theme is most prominent on the issue of life. Here he is clear and uncompromising. In addition to the comments (see aphorisms below) properly labeling abortion as “child killing” and “murder,” he takes the hard line as the only acceptable pro-life position:
There is no such thing as “pro-life with exceptions.” If someone is “pro-life with exceptions” they’re really just pro-choice, but just want fewer choices than Planned Parenthood does. For if you really believed we were killing innocent children, you would do everything you could to stop it regardless of the circumstances. (p. 104)
He then criticizes the more well-known National life organizations for their failure to accomplish any substantial victory in over 40 years. In view of their compromised ineptitude, Deace looks to the more hard-core “Personhood” movement. Personhood efforts in most cases would define a human being from the point of conception as a “person,” and thus would outlaw abortion without exception. The “Personhood” movement has caused the same type of split in the pro-life movement as exists in the larger conservative world: the establishment do-nothing status quo, versus the hard-core die-on-this-hill “purists” (a label Deace wears proudly).
Deace spends a full ten pages discussing this issue and giving props to Personhood USA. But there are some problems to be discussed here. He calls the organization “an emerging group” when in reality it is not so much. First, while the organization “Personhood” has been around only since 2008 or so, the concept has been around much longer. I know people who have been advancing this issue for decades, and they endured the worst of the ridicule and the uphill fights coming against leftists and establishment alike—back when there were no media pundits that would take their side. Any larger organization emergent to prominent visibility at this point is standing on shoulders that deserve recognition.
More importantly, however, the actual organization itself as of late has been dwindling for several reasons, from leadership issues to vision to actual tactics. The latter point is important, as the flagship efforts in Colorado (home of the “Personhood USA” movement) have all failed in that they rely on winning the extreme hard-core case primarily via referendum. All three attempts in CO so far have failed miserably—mainly because the “rape and incest” excuses are still too powerful in the minds of average voters, and they always swing general referenda.
This in turn, then, gives ammunition to leftists and establishment pro-lifers alike who say that such a tactic is self-defeating and will never win. Personhood activists grow discouraged at repeated failures, and this is the case primarily because they lack a long-term vision and strategy to expect failures for some time, yet work to overcome the “rape and incest” emotional hurdle.
Whatever the ultimate immediate reasons, the Personhood organizations appear to be on the wane, and for this reason I would hardly call them “emerging.”
So while I support Deace’s point in taking the hard-core, uncompromising stand, and I support the mission of “personhood” (as I wrote about over two years ago in Restoring America (pp. 148–152), I would not put all my eggs in the “Personhood” basket at this time. There are others with more robust long-term strategies out there fighting. They have less visibility, but more viability in my opinion. It’s just a matter of lots of work over generations, and not big names, headlines, and major organizations.
Nevertheless, Deace is right to say that the mainstream pro-life movements have compromised standards, and have essentially been sitting idly by, occupying space and time, accomplishing very little if anything, yet raising millions upon millions toward that cause, and actually opposing Personhood efforts in many cases. That’s not just ineffective, that’s morally corrupt in my opinion. Deace is right to denounce them and expose them, and call for something better.
We agree on the problems, just not entirely on the solutions so far, though we’re close.
There are many vignettes and flourishes against statism in this book which I would categorize with the praiseworthy pro-life stance above. But I have a few criticisms as well, and these are to be taken as constructive.
One criticism I would have of the book is that of limited utility to the laymen. His “ten commandments” were originally developed for politicians running for office, as the book itself relates. Even though they certainly apply to how conservative rank-and-file ought to think and to argue, the truth is that in the larger arena of political activism, they will have few opportunities to use them as tactics for the cause. In many ways, the rank-and-file are already there. What they need is not so much to be told to stand on principle (though reminders can be helpful), but to have the courage, when establishment Republicans refuse so to stand, to leave them hanging out to dry with no regrets.
One way, therefore, in which the principles herein could be useful to average people is if they use them to convince their conservative neighbors who have been duped, fooled, and sucked in by all the establishment GOP arguments and promises over the years. These neighbors will be reticent to stand on principle in general, unless someone better initiated and awake helps to persuade and enlighten them. Deace’s book could be utilized in both training the awakened and awakening the reticent to a large degree.
There is also the issue of selective tough talk. In a few places in the book, Deace talks tougher than perhaps anyone else you will read. He is merciless, for example, when excoriating Mitt Romney:
“Supporting Romney costs others their credibility.” (p. 54)
“Romney is Rasputin.” (p. 55) Ouch!
“Romney—ironically enough—finished with 47%.” (p. 56) LOL!
And Deace can, rightly, draw from this an iron dictum: “We must . . . cease trusting those whose sell-out actions speak louder than their conservative words.” (p. 57)
Now that’s “line-in-the-sand” talk. And I love it.
And he’s just as realistic about W (pp. 48–49) and Reagan (p. 198), especially in regard to their awful, destructive appointments to the Supreme Court.
But Deace doesn’t stop with politicians; he spies the problem with voters as well. He even gets real with conservative voters’ hypocritical priorities:
Most American want less government until it’s their suckling spot on the welfare state teat being threatened. (p. 151)
Now it takes bravery to put stuff like that in print.
But, and here’s the criticism, not as much bravery as it takes to get specific in important places. Thus, there are areas of sell-out welfare-state teat-ism where even some tough-talking conservatives dare not tread. Take, for example, public schools.
I don’t know where Deace stands on the government schooling issue exactly. And that’s the problem. He is not short of limited criticisms that the system is overrun by liberals and is a pillar in the leftist establishment’s stranglehold on this nation; but he doesn’t “go all the way” here. Here’s an article he wrote that made it in as part of the book. This excerpt illustrates my point:
Government Education: The government schools K-12, and on into college, have essentially become the youth ministry for secular progressives. It is here, with the aid of pop culture, that they have established their feeder system to replenish their ranks every generation. As the long-time former attorney for the National Education Association admitted at his retirement party in 2009, “NEA and its affiliates have been singled out because they are the nation’s leading advocates for the type of liberal economic and social agenda (conservatives) find unacceptable.” Some, like David Horowitz and my friend E. Ray Moore, have been sounding the clarion call to confront this for many years. But sadly it’s fallen mainly on deaf ears within the majority of the conservative movement. (pp. 16–17)
They haven’t “become” progressive indoctrination centers—they always were that. They were designed as such. And E. Ray More has not been saying anything about “confront” these for years—he’s been trying to plead with Christians and Christian leaders—like Deace—to exit, leave, and close government schools altogether. That’s why Moore’s effort is called “Exodus Mandate.” Exodus. Not confront. Leave.
(In fact, E. Ray Moore has just announced a political campaign for South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor position, running openly on a platform of pro-Christian and home education. An AP report notes Ray’s “platform includes encouraging parents to take their children out of public schools for Christian or home schooling.”)
Despite being personal friends with men like Moore, and despite making a few mentions of leftism and failures of government schools, Deace doesn’t move beyond that. Why not? Perhaps he has gotten the message:
I know one major Evangelical author and speaker who had a book manuscript rejected by one of the biggest organizations in the conservative movement, because in it he confronted the Leftist indoctrination in our schools. (p. 17)
That’s how the Republican establishment squashes those biblical principles it can’t afford to make public. That’s how Republicrats roll: they talk tough and principled until their government teat is threatened.
Deace tells tales of arguments with other conservatives where he cornered his opponent and then “moved in for the kill.” But not here. Why not? There is no way the principles of free markets and principled politics will ever prevail in this nation until the socialistic school system is dealt with definitively. Deace knows what Moore stands for, and thus he has heard all of this many times from several of us. Why the halt? All it does is further the hated establishment’s death-grip on conservative politics.
In addition to selective tough-talk, the book engages in apparently self-contradictory positions in a few places. These are important as well, for clarity in principle is necessary—especially because of the current problems of divisions and confusion within the Republican Party and among conservatives more generally.
For example, Chapter 1 opens by asserting that modern Republicans labor under a “false assumption” which includes the beliefs that “We make up the silent majority,” and “This is still a right-of-center country.” These are not true, we are told, because the center had moved left, and the silent majority is too divided to act as a majority.
That is fair enough if I could believe. But I have a hard time giving it too much credence because in the very next chapter Deace demonstrates that liberals are a vast minority that only succeeds with help of “Republicrats” in office. His argument there is chock with footnoted stats:
- Twice as many Americans describe themselves as ideologically conservative rather than liberal.
- Three times as more Americans believe in some variant of the Biblical account of creation as the origin of the human species than do atheistic evolution. . . .
- Less than 2% of the American population identifies themselves as homosexual.
- 74% of Americans want the government to cut deficits, only 8% of American want tax increases to be the focus of deficit reduction, and the majority of Americans favor scrapping the federal income tax.
- 75% of Americans oppose funding the killing of children (abortion) with taxpayer dollars. (pp. 42–43).
These are all conservative pluses, and they hardly show a minority. They are also not limited to fiscal issues, but clearly social as well. This is not a picture of conservatives as either a minority, having drifted left, or balkanized.
Another inconsistency involves Tenth Amendment thinking. On page 70 appears a condemnation of the post-Civil War dilution of State protections afforded by the Amendment:
If the generations preceding the Civil War had been more principled in utilizing the political process to end the abomination of slavery, perhaps it would have never come to war and the proper interpretation of the 10th Amendment protecting these United States from the endless encroachment of the federal government would’ve been preserved. The current understanding of federal supremacy has its historical origins in the aftermath of the Civil War. . . . But now the feds call any assertion of the sovereignty of the States an excuse to impose further.
I can work with that. There was indeed perversion of the Tenth, and there are legitimate sovereignties in the States which ought to be upheld. I think they were compromised much earlier than the Civil War, but we can start there if you like. Let’s just restore that “proper interpretation” whatever the case.
But then later in the book, when issues arise which Deace apparently deems need to be nationalized at the federal level, he departs from this “proper” perspective and speaks very dismissively about alleged “states’ rights.”
In fact, when arguing against people who espoused a “states rights” view, Deace lumped them in with the dreaded “Republicrats” (perhaps they were, but generally statists don’t run to “states rights” positions. That’s usually the area of Libertarians). When rebutting the view that marriage and abortion are best handled at the state level, Deace told these guys, “I’ve got to wonder if you’ve ever read the Constitution” (p. 181). He argues the “faith and full credit [sic] clause” of that Document would provide the federal government all the means necessary to impose a single federal ruling on all the states, because that clause “demands each state recognize the others’ legislation and public records.”
This, of course, assumes the Tenth Amendment hardly exists at all. Moreover, if he really believes this is so airtight, I challenge him to test the “full faith and credit” of a concealed carry permit from his home state of Iowa travelling just one state over to Illinois. Go ahead. Prove the veracity of that “full faith and credit clause.” I hope you can make bail.
We could have all kinds of arguments over the finer niceties such state statutes and regulations could provide, but Deace is flat-out dismissive in the starkest terms in this regard, claiming he “moved in for the kill” against these “states rights” proponents:
There was once a group of Americans who thought despite what the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says each state could decide for itself what a human life is, and devalue it if they want to. Maybe you heard of them. They were called Confederates. Congratulations, you think you’ve latched on to some new, exciting idea but it was already rejected in this country like 150 years ago (p. 181).
So now which is it? Is Tenth Amendment thinking “Confederate” and by implication in modern society, evil? Is it to be always inevitably overruled and trumped by the “Full Faith and Credit” clause, or by the “due process” and “life” clauses of the 5th Amendment? Was the proper, State-empowered view the one before the Civil War? Or was the post-Civil War settlement with the 14th Amendment proper?
And perhaps Deace forgets that it was precisely that post-Civil War settlement which allowed and empowered the very decision of Roe v. Wade. The “states rights” view would have kept abortion illegal, not immediately legalized it nationally.
And wouldn’t such a “national only” view of the pro-life issue negate anything Deace’s favorite “Personhood” groups would be working on at any state level? Wouldn’t those efforts fall under the same criticisms as these neo-“Confederates” he told off?
And despite the boogeyman term of “Confederates” (today, always automatic bad guys right next to Hitler), only a few pages later Deace quotes approvingly from the criticism of “conservatism” penned by none other than arch-Confederate pastor Robert Lewis Dabney. Now, I love me some Dabney as much as the next Southern Presbyterian, but there’s a good bit to his views on race and slavery that remained unreformed, even as he published them openly well into the 1890s, and in opposition to “Northern conservatism.” This is enough to make leftists and establishment GOP opponents drool and buzzards (but I repeat myself) start circling over political contests.
Whatever the proper view of the Tenth and Fourteenth/Fifth Amendments may be, Deace is not clear on it, and he appears to me to on different sides of it in his book at different times.
Another inconsistency regards the person of Ronald Reagan. Late in the book, Deace rightly criticizes an undue nostalgia regarding the good-old Reagan days. While giving Reagan proper credit for the two major successes he did have (corporate taxes and the Berlin Wall), he rightly engages in some demythologizing. He objects to the Republican Party branding themselves with Reagan’s name at all times and in all places: “every sort of Republican now claims Ronald Reagan as their legacy, even the absolute worst ones that might as well be Democrats” (p. 196).
Indeed, most of the Republican Party historically has not measured up to the myth of Reagan: “The Party of Reagan isn’t the party of Reagan. Reagan was the Republican Party’s aberration” (p. 134).
But on the other hand, Reagan doesn’t seem to measure up, either:
Reagan failed to substantially reduce the size of government, did noting substantive to dismantle the Left’s monopoly on education, . . . lent his name to a failed amnesty program that turned California from red to blue in elections for the last two decades, and appointed two mediocre-to-terrible Supreme Court justices (p. 198).
And that’s cool. I just need some consistency. Is Reagan exceptional? An aberration? Or basically one more establishment legacy?
Finally, there is the issue of timing. On the one hand, Deace argues we need a multi-generational outlook, but on another, he suggests we don’t have the time for it. On page 207 he concludes a chapter by saying,
We are facing at best a long generational grind to restore the republic, and the longer we take to go on offense the longer it will take to preserve freedom and liberty for our children and grandchildren.
But then Deace sees, as a reason not “to form a 3rd Party movement,” that it “may take decades to realize. Given how much freedom, liberty, and morality we’ve lost, our constitutional republic probably doesn’t have decades.”
I agree that we need to do as much as we can right now, but any real “fix” will only be long-term, and so Deace needs to be clear whether we have time for a “generational grind” or whether we don’t.
And further, it’s not true that the work of third parties would need to begin now as if we were only just now to “form” one. That formative period was begun already decades ago, and Deace knows there is much to build on there already. Especially when he argues that the Republican Party is already beyond the point of reforming, there are few options left (p. 218).
I have a few other straggling criticisms. There are a couple spurious quotations of the Barton sort attributed in the book: one to Alexis de Tocqueville (p. 69) and one to Abraham Lincoln (p. 198). Neither of these has ever been supported by evidence. I spent over an hour perusing Lincoln’s Collected Works (9 vols) trying to find the latter to no avail. They are generally regarded as spurious at best, or fake at worst. Both of these should have been caught by the publisher.
I bring this up because we are trying to assert “moral high ground” and “principled” sway within the conservative world. Fake quotations don’t help that cause. They make us a laughingstock among leftists and GOP establishment alike, and give them both reason to dismiss us as cranks—either naïve or dishonest.
One other minor detail squeaked by the editors as well. Deace tells the “47%” joke about Romney in chapter 2 (p. 56), then repeats it in chapter 3 (p. 74) with new phrasing as if you’ve never heard it. Now that’s hardly a mark of failure, but it is annoying.
More of this, please
There are a couple places in the book where Deace broached a subject and moved on, but I wish he would have opened up and dwelt on it for a while. The reason for this is because these particular topics reveal real, deep, structural problems in the conservative world and larger American political world that are absolutely dishonest, corrupt, and absolutely destructive of liberty.
One of these areas he mentions only, again, as a “con” against the viability of any third party: “The most viable right-of-center 3rd Parties—the Libertarian and Constitution Parties—still don’t have consistent ballot access in 50 states” (pp. 212–213). He’s absolutely right, and it’s an American tragedy to speak of open elections, rags to riches, bootstraps, and apple pie when state laws in many states give money and privileges to the two establishment parties, but purposefully make it nearly impossible for 3rd parties even to get off the ground, let alone prevail. In addition, state laws allow double standards to prevail that stack the deck against 3rd Parties and give advantages to the two bigs. That’s flat wrong, immoral, and corrupt in my opinion.
So, hey, let’s talk about this shall we? If we’re on about beating the establishment and its dirty tricks, let’s open this up a bit. Most people don’t even know about this corrupt system which favors the very establishment types Deace is against. It would make a good whole chapter in a book to expose these types of problems and how true conservative patriots can overcome them.
But Deace mentions it only in passing, and then only as a reason not to move forward in any way except within the Republican Party. To be fair, Deace also gives plenty of “pros” in favor of abandoning the big boys, and says he sees compelling arguments on both sides; but in the end he sides with a “party within a party” model.
That’s fine to take that position. I just wish he would have elaborated on that point more because I think it is more important to his very cause than some other things for which he gave space.
Other issues in this category I’ve already mentioned. The public school is one of them. I wish Deace would have explored this more in depth, especially in regard to his criticism of conservatives themselves being conditioned to the welfare teat and squealing when it’s taken away. Social Security and Medicare could have come into the same discussion. There are nuances here to be sure, but the principle cuts through anyway. You won’t buck the establishment until we break our dependencies on it. I wish he would have gone further in this regard.
Deace would have done us a better service to give these serious problems more prominent attention in his larger vision for conservatives winning again and restoring liberty. Unfortunately, he only mentions them almost in passing if at all. I don’t see how any headway can be made, and certainly no lasting impact, without addressing these deeper structural compromises and corruptions in the American systems.
All of these criticisms aside, there is much good to take away from the book. First, I think there are so many good one-liners and nuggets of wisdom, one could compile a small book of aphorisms from this work alone. Here are some good ones:
“We need to be honest with ourselves and stop believing our own fundraising propaganda.” (p. 13)
“Good luck slashing the size of government without defending the family, since the breakdown of the family is the impetus for the welfare state to begin with.” (p. 21)
“It is time for conservatives to stop playing the victim card.” (p. 31)
Give us “something to vote for and not just against.” (p. 51)
Compare: “Most Republicans end up being defined by what they’re against and not what they’re for.” (p. 93).
“Let’s not blame those who acted on their convictions even if we disagree with their actions.” (p. 60).
“Until we defeat Republicrats, we’re not even going to get a chance to defeat Democrats.” (61).
“My entire family line could have been wiped out by those who claim to be ‘pro-life with exceptions.’” (p. 103).
“You cannot prevail in any moral cause if you surrender the moral high ground.” (p. 104)
“Unless you know why you believe what you believe you will accept your opponent’s premise more times than not.” (p. 115)
“At best the Republican Party establishment views its grassroots base as (what kids today would refer to as) a hook-up or a booty call.” (p. 133)
“They claim to be incrementalists, but really they’re just defeatists. These folks would rather lose to Democrats than lose control of the Republican Party to us.” (p. 133)
In fact, they would rather not have to govern so they can perpetually raise money off of the naive “sheeple” out there by proclaiming how bad the Democrats are all the time.” (p. 133)
“Paulistas correctly see the system as unsalvageable.” (p. 142).
“Whenever the system offers you something, you already have it.” (p. 143)
“In politics you are what hills you’re willing to die on.” (p. 147).
“We have allowed the enemy to define us as hypocrites.” (p. 159)
“We need to define child killing as child killing . . . . state-sanctioned child murder. . . .” (pp. 160, 168)
“Congress might be less popular than cockroaches and root canals, but 90% of Congressional incumbents were re-elected in 2012.” (p. 173)
Against those who argue the likes of “anybody but Obama”: “That’s like saying ‘anything but a disembowelment,’ and settling for having your throat slit. (p. 173)
“Have you ever noticed that homosexual behavior itself is still not widely portrayed in mainstream pop culture? . . . They know on a base level most Americans still view the behavior itself on a spectrum ranging from bizarre to repulsive. Homosexuals are depicted much more than homosexuality is.” (pp. 176–177).
“All the damage from a contrived attack is self-inflicted. If you avoid the trap, attacks become excellent opportunities.” (p. 187)
“In a culture of soft-headed metrosexuals like ours, there is real power in a willingness to take a stand and own it.” (p. 191)
“For all the talk of our need for another Ronald Reagan, I think what we really need are some [Bo] Schembechlers.” (p. 195).
“Giftedness doesn’t matter to us if it’s not used to advance the principles we hold dear.” (p. 196)
“Quoting Reagan to the emerging generation today is like quoting Calvin Coolidge.” (p. 197)
“It’s time for leaders who aren’t here to make friends with the system, but have a cause they believe is worth fighting and dying for if necessary.” (p. 199)
“We don’t owe this party any loyalty.” (p. 216)
“Bad Republicans are actually worse than Democrats.” (p. 217)
“We don’t contort our moral values into a pretzel to justify voting for another Republican hack.” (p. 219)
“We’re at the point now the primary really is the election.” (p. 219).
There could be more, but these are my favorites. They are all good reminders even for those of us who write things like this. They are good reminders to keep in your pocket especially during election seasons when the pressures of compromise and politicians’ smiles are there for the express purpose of making us forget our principles and lines in the sand.
In short, Deace is at his strongest when he’s taking the Republican establishment head-on. But there are places in which he does not clearly distinguish himself from them, either in principle or practice, either by commission or omission; and it is in these areas where his essays suffer a bit. But again, these places are the minority, and 7 out of 10 is probably well-merited.
The spirit of the book is great, and the attitude with which Deace would have us view our elected leaders is priceless, as exhibited by a final excerpt (with which I close). Deace was having breakfast with an establishment politician who was challenging Deace’s hard stands and tactics and issues. Deace responds:
“We ain’t partners, we ain’t brothers, and we ain’t friends.” I’m not a team player, and I don’t want to be. I don’t want to hang out with you. I have a family and my schedule is full. . . . Don’t give me your card. I’m not giving you mine. I don’t want your cell phone number, and I’m not giving you mine. I don’t want to sit next to your political hacks at the party fundraiser. What I do want is for you to do your damn job, and that job is fighting for us on the issues we care the most about. If you do that I will be the best friend you’ve ever had, but if you sell us out I will make you hate life for three hours a day on a 50,000-watt radio station. Are we clear? . . .
That’s how it’s done. That is how the employer (us) recovers the leverage with our employees (them). . . .
These people work for us. They’re not a ruling class. . . . We must never forget that, and more importantly we must never let them forget it, either. We don’t thank them for giving us our time, or pose for pictures with them like we’re groupies. Does your boss thank you for your time when he needs you to do your darn job? Does your boss pose for pictures and ask you for an autograph? We need to stop feeding the animals, and start reigning [sic] them in. (pp. 138—139)