I had heard Sykes interviewed on NPR and thought he might have interesting insights from the conservative point of view. In the “Introduction,” he says, “After Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, the Democrats need to perform an autopsy; Republicans need an exorcism.” Look over the table of contents and you’ll see the demons to be driven out by priests like George Will, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker: “Alt reality media” (Fox News) and its self-serving practitioners (Limbaugh et al), bigotry and perpetual outrage, Alt Right extremists, and hypocritical evangelicals. His 27-page incantation for performing the ritual doesn’t seem powerful enough. It’s mostly good advice for anyone wanting to be an active citizen with a balanced view of the community’s needs. His observations on the cause of the Trump problem are accurate, but he just can’t get past the fundamental constraint of his conservative ideas. For Sykes, the conservative mind must be closed to progressive ideas. “By its nature, conservatism flies in the face of popular ideas and culture. Because it has firm, occasionally hard-nosed principles, it has to push against the fierce headwinds of both fashion and history.” While one would agree that fashions are often misguided and insubstantial, I should think the kind of thoughtful conservatism he espouses would be concerned about being on the wrong side of history most of the time.

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