I listened to Everything Trump Touches Dies by conservative campaign strategist Rick Wilson on Audible. Narrated by Wilson and dripping with snarky disgust, ETTD is an unflinching and unforgiving evisceration of the Trump campaign and administration through its first year-plus.
In an effort to broaden my own media intake, and to keep up with the more conservative thinkers Jessie tends to follow, I recently decided I needed to listen to/read some of these folks. Hear the other side of the story and all that.
So it should come as no surprise that I began this book with a healthy dose of liberal skepticism. I don’t know whether I fit the traditional mold of a modern liberal or not; I’m not a fan of foreign interventions, and I think there is compromise to be found in gun rights. So I don’t really know what that makes me. Labels are stupid. Just know that I tried my best to take most of Wilson’s policy analysis and disdain for Trumpian officials with a grain of salt.
I could not help myself, however, from basically agreeing, at least tacitly, with everything he said. Wilson is so blunt, so callous, and so damn funny in his rants against everything from Trump’s golden-escalator descent into presidential candidacy to the revolving door of top-level administration officials that you can only smile, shake your head, and cheer him on.
Even when Wilson takes aim at the Clinton campaign for being absolutely blind to any American outside of the “coastal liberal elite” that she and the likes of Pelosi are inevitably accused of catering to, I have to agree with him.
But when you take a moment to see past the rhetoric, Wilson hits home on several strong arguments for why Trump is the worst and the most dangerous president in American history, without it sounding hyperbolic.
According to Wilson, Trump’s utter incompetency, combined with the alt-rightist personalities he’s surrounded himself with, have legitimately eroded away most of country’s strongest democratic institutions. He has basically echoed a growing thought in my mind since 2016.
But Wilson doesn’t just stop at Trump and his cohorts. The current GOP, and especially those in Congress, are at absolute fault for bowing to Trump’s statist nationalism, where loyalty to the party is paramount to what is actually right or good or ethical for the country, or even their constituents.
The fact that Wilson is a long-time DC strategist with personal ties to most of the big names among Trump’s circle and the GOP only make his stinging criticisms and insults all the more potent.
He also puts his money where his mouth is, describing how he agreed to work with the Doug Jones campaign to defeat alleged pedophile Roy Moore for Alabama’s Senate seat.
Interestingly, as one of the founders of the Never Trump movement among conservatives, he also uses this book as his manifesto, explaining in clear terms why he opposes Trump and what it means for the present and future of conservatism in the US.
He makes a compelling, and surprisingly optimistic case, that Trump is an aberration in American politics, and that there is hope for the GOP and the country in a post-Trump world. As numerous congressional and local elections have shown, the only person who can win on the Trump brand is Trump himself. Once he is gone, according to Wilson, this racist, uber-nationalist, statist iteration of the GOP will fall apart.
I hope he’s right. Despite his in-your-face attitude, I think Wilson is a savvy political analyst who cares about this country. Maybe I’ve fallen under some spell to turn “liberals” away from the Pelosi-Schumer camp.
I don’t know how biased Wilson’s accounts of the Trump campaign are, but I will definitely be paying attention to what he has to say in the future.
This book is definitely worth a listen/read, if only for the catharsis that someone out in the conservative wilderness is actively opposing this disaster of a presidency.