Sargent deftly presents the evidence necessary to expose Republicans’ baseless claims of voter fraud, a threat fabricated to justify voter suppression laws, adopted in many states, that disfranchise the poor, nonwhites, recent immigrants and others likelier to vote for Democratic candidates. Sargent shows why the demography of 21st-century America, which has recently yielded aggregate majority votes for Democrats, has nevertheless worked in favor of Republicans ... An Uncivil War merits wide readership, not only because of Sargent’s persuasive indictment of the anti-democratic, countermajoritarian and cynical strategies Republicans have employed for decades, but also because of his well-reasoned arguments for continuing to play by — instead of bending — the rules.
In An Uncivil War: Taking Back Our Democracy in an Age of Trumpian Disinformation and Thunderdome Politics, Mr. Sargent offers a familiar list of left-liberal grievances: Mr. Trump’s lies and bigotry, Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression, Fox News ... Despite the book’s hackneyed title, there is very little here about civility. What ails American politics, Mr. Sargent seems to believe, is that his side hasn’t had its way. Perhaps he should read Mr. Sasse’s book (Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal). And, come to think of it, perhaps the senator should read Mr. Sargent’s.
How did we arrive at our current appalling state of affairs, politically speaking? There are many ingredients in that particular stew, writes Washington Post political blogger Sargent. There’s the free-floating rage that has descended on the land, encouraging what the author calls 'thunderdome politics,' the decline of the political conversation...There are the sitting president’s attacks on democratic institutions and his clear autocratic tendencies, all enabled by a weak congressional cohort and a host of willing sycophants ... And then there’s the president’s constant lying, a trope that turns up again and again in these pages, as if we should somehow be surprised by it after all this time ... Sargent reassures readers that we’ve seen worse and lived to tell the tale and that 'there are reasons to be optimistic that our institutions are, while battered and black-eyed, largely holding up in the face of Trump’s degradations.' Not much to surprise politically aware readers, but a solid appeal to small-r republican virtues and an altogether readable polemic.