The Pequod Review:
Steve Kornacki's The Red and the Blue explores our recent history of political polarization, and shows that its origins can be traced back to at least the 1990s when the battles between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton reset the rules for acceptable forms of political behavior. Gingrich was in many ways a Trump of his own time, employing a scorched-earth strategy of refusing to cooperate with Democrats and attacking anyone on his own side who sought compromise. There are also echoes of Trump in the candidacy of Pat Buchanan, who said during the 1992 Republican primary, "When we take America back, we are going to make America great again, because there is nothing wrong with putting America first.” Kornacki's book is too often a perfunctory play-by-play of topical news stories and he could have spent more time on the impact of international events. But it becomes abundantly clear from his accumulated evidence that Donald Trump was more a symptom than a cause of our political tribalism, and that while he may have accelerated these trends they were in place long before he took office.