A conservative cri de coeur by a former U.S. representative.
Gibson, a retired Purple Heart–winning Army officer from upstate New York, term-limited himself out of Congress when his term expired in January 2017, just after a bruising presidential race. Of that, he writes mildly, “for the majority of Americans, the 2016 presidential was not a positive experience.” Trump’s victory, he suggests, brings with it a rat’s nest of problems, since it elevated “a guy without a strong set of principles and beliefs….President Trump lacks the core strength of deeply held views.” While his own views would appear to be deeply held, especially on matters of religion, Gibson voted for that guy as “the only candidate who could bring the change we need—jobs, wages, and reform.” That, of course, remains to be seen. The author serves up a set of red-meat-to-true-believer formulas: “restore founding principles,” “unify and grow,” and so forth, each of which seems reasonable enough at first glance but under which are some questionable assertions. For instance, the Establishment Clause notwithstanding, by Gibson’s view, “the United States has never been a secular state.” No? Tell it to the Founders. Of Robespierre, architect of revolution, he writes, “the French experiment with a republic died with him.” Tell that to Emmanuel Macron. Libertarians and even progressives will find common cause in a few of Gibson’s points, such as his repudiation of the Iraq War, a deviation from the author’s “peace through strength” mantra, and of the Patriot Act. “We reject authoritarianism,” he writes resoundingly, “and favor liberty and the messy business of self-governance in which citizens have rights and responsibilities.” Even so, many of Gibson’s stated views tend toward the Tea Party right, especially when he scorns fellow Republicans for being statist, neoliberal, and so forth.
A book that can be reduced to slogans, none especially original—but a requisite step in building a brand for the next political step.