In Crane Brinton's classic 1938 study, "The Anatomy of Revolution," the historian of France offered a four-step process for the unfolding of any revolution--(1) discontent, antagonism, and overthrow of the old regime, (2) revolutionaries gain power but moderating positions tend to invite disunity among those revolting, (3) extremists take over the revolution and rule through reigns of terror and virtue, and (4) a "Thermidorean reaction" against the extremes of the revolution and a return to stability.
This exegesis on Brinton's "Anatomy of Revolution" may seem unusual in a review of "Invasion of the Party Snatchers" but it is actually quite applicable. Victor Gold, a former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush and aide to Barry Goldwater, finds that both a revolution within the Republican Party and an attempted revolution in government have run its course since 1980. In the 1970s the Republicans coalesced around a conservative agenda that found its voice in the presidency of Ronald Reagan and a broad coalition of supporters with differing priorities, including many traditional Democrats. That generally moderate Republicanism became more radical in the 1990s and the first part of the twenty-first century as extremists gained ascendency in the party and ruled on behalf of narrow but powerful elements--especially the so-called neo-conservatives and the religious right--to the exclusion of other parts of the party represented by such individuals as Victor Gold. Gold and other longstanding Republicans are mounting their own version of a "Thermidorean reaction" against that radicalism and intend to retake the Republican Party and return to a more traditional and appropriate set of priorities.
"Invasion of the Party Snatchers" is a fascinating indictment of neo-conservatism and religious right political priorities within the Republican Party. Gold describes that he calls a war within the party for the "soul of the GOP." He catalogs a range of abuses as these revolutionaries sought to remake both the U.S. and Republican Party, and finds much wanting in the current version of the party of Lincoln. His critique is endlessly captivating, sometimes extravagant, and often illuminating. Written for a broad, non-academic audience, "Invasion of the Party Snatchers" pulls back the curtain of the Republican Party to reveal what is behind the scenes. Read in conjunction with several other books--especially "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges, "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" by Kevin Phillips, and "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" by Thomas Frank--Victor Gold offers a valuable new perspective on recent politics in the United States.