“The Party is Over: Book Reviews

Washington Post: Books

By Colin Woodard, Published: September 14, 2012 Link to article

book_amA little over a year ago, a 28-year veteran Republican congressional staffer, Mike Lofgren, decided to leave his job, but he didn’t go quietly. In a widely read parting essay published at Truthout.org, he asserted that the party he’d spent his career in had been taken over by crackpots and lunatics. The piece was sharp, eloquent and all the more damning for being produced not by a progressive activist, but by a longtime aide to Rep. John Kasich of Ohio, a conservative fiscal hawk.

The GOP, Lofgren argued in the aftermath of the debt-ceiling debacle, increasingly resembled “an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe” in which “a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.” The party’s cynical electoral strategy was to deadlock government and thus undermine the public’s faith in it and its presumed allies, the Democrats. Beholden to billionaires, the military-industrial complex and Armageddon-craving fundamentalists, the party of Abraham Lincoln had become a threat to the nation’s future. Read more..


Party’s over: Longtime GOPer dissects modern politics

Published August 20, 2012, By Robyn Blumner on Pocono Record Link to article

In 1939, George Orwell wrote, “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” Enter Mike Lofgren, today’s intelligent man who is fulfilling that duty. His book, “The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted,” is an engrossing autopsy of current political reality — where one party looks like a freak show and the other barely registers a pulse.

What makes Lofgren unique is his vantage point. He was a once proud Republican who worked in Congress for 28 years analyzing legislation for the House and Senate budget committees. At various times, Lofgren worked for Republicans Rep. John Kasich of Ohio and Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. But like many Republicans — Charlie Crist of Florida, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (who has since changed parties) and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, to name a few — Lofgren stood still while his party made a sharp turn to the right, leaving him and sanity behind. Lofgren’s story is not one of newfound love for Democrats. To the contrary, he finds both parties culpable for souring the American Dream. The difference is that Lofgren faults Democrats for their omission as much as their commission. He says, while Democrats don’t match the “zanies who infest the Republican Party,” their problem is that “most do not appear to believe in anything very strongly.” Read more


Crashing the Parties: Mike Lofgren on ‘Crazy’ Republicans, ‘Useless’ Democrats, Who’s To Blame and What Can Be Done About It By D.R. Tucker on 8/17/2012 on Bradblog.com Link to Article

Mike Lofgren’s new book, The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, will certainly motivate the actual patriots in the United States — and alienate those Americans who merely call themselves patriots.

Lofgren, who spent nearly three decades as a Republican congressional staffer working at various points for then-Rep. John Kasich of Ohio and then-Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, garnered national attention last year for a Truth-Out.org piece entitled “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.”

In that piece, he famously declared, “The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.” The Party Is Over is more than an extension of the Truth-Out piece; in fact, it is the best description of the intellectual and moral collapse of Washington since Sam Tanenhaus’s The Death of Conservatism…

Lofgren makes it clear at the outset that the Republicans can get away with their insanity in part because the Democrats don’t fight aggressively enough for sanity: [The Democrats] have not become an extremist party like the GOP — their politicians do not match the current crop of zanies who infest the Republican Party — but their problem lies in the opposite direction. It is not that they are fanatics or zealots; it is that most do not appear to believe in anything very strongly…After three straight losses in presidential elections between 1980 and 1988, they abandoned the practices of their old beliefs while continuing to espouse them in theory. These new Democrats will say anything to win an election — an objective that, in their minds, generally requires them to emulate Republicans, particularly with respect to moneygrubbing on the fund-raising circuit…What has evolved in America over the last three decades is a one-and-a-half-party system, as Democrats opportunistically cleave to the ‘center,’ which, in the relativistic universe of American politics, keeps moving further to the right. Read more


Editorial Reviews

“Lofgren’s ideas are trenchant and far-reaching. . . . With the feel of a long-repressed confession and the authority of an insider’s testimony, like the anti-war views of a decorated infantry officer . . . he writes about how the Republican party took advantage of a profoundly ignorant electorate, an easily conned and distracted media, and a cowed Democratic Party to press the ideological struggle in spite of the deep unpopularity of many of its positions.” —George Packer, The New Yorker   “Expect demand for this inside view of Washington, D.C., by a staffer who spent a quarter-century on Capitol Hill before publishing a screed on “America’s broken political system” at truthout.org. Lofgren criticizes Democrats . . . but his long service to GOP office-holders inevitably makes his critique of that party more detailed and fascinating. . . . A pungent, penetrating insider polemic.” —Mary Carroll, Booklist (starred review)   “A scrupulously bipartisan diagnosis of the sick state of American politics and governance . . . Lofgren devotes close attention to budget issues rarely accorded so much detail in garden-variety op-ed warfare. Sustaining his original thesis well beyond Internet-browsing attention span, Lofgren has crafted an angry but clear-sighted argument that may not sit well at family reunions or dinner parties, but deserves attention.” —Publishers Weekly   “A well-argued call for more sanity in American politics.” —Kirkus Reviews


Amazon Customer Reviews

(Read all Reviews)

5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing look at modern politics from an insider  By Brian OMalley The Party Is Over is excellent. Mike Lofgren is a real historian and has filled his book with terrific insights and analyses. Nowhere is there a better assessment of the fundamental axiom of Republican politics than on page 35, “that relentless attack is its own Teflon.” I suspect this book will itself be relentlessly attacked and Lofgren vilified as an apostate. But Lofgren is a genuine conservative in its traditional definition as respectful of tradition and cautious. His analysis of “paleoconservatives” on page 23 is on point, “Scratch many a paleoconservative and you will find a neo-Confederate at heart.” The Republican Southern Strategy of 1968 has born the bitter fruit of turning the clock back to secessionism. While a few, like Texas Governor Rick Perry, have treasonously advocated open secessionism, the contemporary version is secession by withdrawing financially from our nation either by endless tax cuts for the rich to hollow out our infrastructure and institutions or by corporate outsourcing. read more