The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right

Overview


Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office after his historic victory in 2008, cadres of lobbyists, oil tycoons, and right-wing politicians met to plan his political demise. The massive conservative infrastructure created by business groups beginning in the 1970s would not be sufficient, they concluded: in the age of Obama, something new—and bold—had to be done.

Four years later, the blogger who exposed the nefarious Koch brothers and who first reported on the ...

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The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right

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Overview


Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office after his historic victory in 2008, cadres of lobbyists, oil tycoons, and right-wing politicians met to plan his political demise. The massive conservative infrastructure created by business groups beginning in the 1970s would not be sufficient, they concluded: in the age of Obama, something new—and bold—had to be done.

Four years later, the blogger who exposed the nefarious Koch brothers and who first reported on the lobbyists who brought us the Tea Parties gives us a brilliant, withering exposé of the plans to make America conservative again. Informed by years of deep research and firsthand reporting, Lee Fang "knows it better than anyone writing today" (Jennifer Granholm). He dissects the dynamics of the conservative message machine, traces the money trail, and explicates how the right-wing machine has cleverly adapted to crush Obama and progressive reform. Fang also takes stock of the 2012 election results, warning us that, with Obama's reelection, the right is only going to dig deeper ideological trenches.

One of the star investigative journalists of his generation, Fang has been hailed as a "fearless American muckraker" (Jane Mayer, The New Yorker). In this indispensable handbook, he sheds light on the darkest corners of the new conservative movement, telling the story of the people, the money, and the strategies that makes it tick. The Machine is essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of our democracy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his first book, Fang, a contributing writer at The Nation, takes a detailed, dizzying look into the movers and shakers essential to reshaping both conservatism and the Republican Party in the wake of President Obama's first term. As the Right attempts to rebrand itself in the wake of Obama's re-election, Fang traces the Tea Party's coalescence into a headline-grabbing monolith that pushed out the Democratic majority—and the moderate wing of the Republican Party—in the 2010 midterm elections. The movement "provided a proxy for voters disgusted with the Republican Party's track record to still vote for the GOP," by manipulating Americans, in part, with the call to the proto-revolutionary act its name symbolized. But Fang's core premise is how absolute the corporate influence is throughout the Republican Party. The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United allowed "corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts on electioneering"; funneling astronomical amounts of money into front-groups designed to convince Americans to voting against their own self-interests. Fang offers little in answering what can be done to counter corporate power and influence, but his research will motivate readers to question the influences behind political movements. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"I can't imagine a better guide to the political machine of the right than Lee Fang. His investigative skill and keen eye for the way power operates and money corrupts are dazzling."
—Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, The Nation

"Progressives: get thee immediately to a bookstore and pick up a copy of The Machine; there is no time to waste. Lee Fang documents in lively detail the cogs, axles, sockets, levers, and output of the most insidious political machine in our history—the resurgent right. The reach of this machine is hair-raising, but in order to overcome it, one must know it. Fang, with his years of reporting and insight, knows it better than anyone writing today, and he presents a compelling field guide for smart progressives. A must-read for the left and anyone concerned about the takeover of democracy by the wealthy few."
—Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan

"With our lawmakers more beholden than ever to dark money, Lee’s book couldn’t have come at a better time. Wealthy corporations and donors have made a huge investment in partisan politics, which means reformers need to arm themselves with the best information available, and this expertly researched book is a great place to start."
—Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause

"Lee Fang is one of America’s best and most prolific investigative journalists, and in this brilliant and insightful work he tells a vital and important story of the takeover of American politics by a small band of billionaires. An absolute must-read for every American who cares about the future of America and of democracy itself."
—Thom Hartmann, radio host and author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

"Few people have done more in-depth research, reporting, and writing on the post-Obama conservative movement than Lee Fang. The Machine goes beyond the headlines and explores exactly how this ideological movement operates."
—Amanda Terkel, senior political reporter, The Huffington Post

“A practical addition to literature on conservatism that will be widely appreciated, not just on the left.”
Kirkus

Kirkus Reviews
Nation contributor Fang debuts with this introduction to the leadership of the contemporary conservative movement, survey of its organizational forms and tactics, and classification of its different sections, by function and area of activity. The author presents a movement split between two parts--the religious fundamentalist wing and its libertarian counterpart--with two sources of tactical leadership, organized around weekly coalition-type meetings in the nation's capital. There is the group associated with Grover Norquist and his tax resisters, while the other identifies with the late New Right leader Paul Weyrich of the Heritage Foundation. Fang reviews both the public and behind-the-scenes influences of organizations like FreedomWorks, the Heritage Foundation and the Council for National Policy, as well as funding influences like the Koch brothers. In the process, he documents how front groups and single-issue formations have been spawned and their activities funded and coordinated. Fang identifies the Heritage Foundation as "still the center of conservatism" and finds the roots of the present radicalism on the right in the opponents of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. He shows how Koch family members, involved in founding the John Birch Society, continue to play a multigenerational role. Fang insists that today's movement, along with its corporate sponsors, are usurpers of the tradition associated with the original tea party, which was directed against government-subsidized efforts to undermine domestic and international competitors. Funding, media, Internet and other elements are all coordinated in ways some participants probably don't understand at all. A practical addition to literature on conservatism that will be widely appreciated, not just on the left.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595586391
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 839,462
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Lee Fang is a former blogger for ThinkProgress and a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in national publications including the Boston Globe. He is a regular commentator on MSNBC and NPR, and his work has led to calls for investigations in Congress and the FEC. This is his first book. Fang lives in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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