Resisting the Right

sub-heading:
How to Survive the Gathering Storm
Foreword by
JAMES CARROLL

“Combines the revelations of unfolding tragedy with the artistry of a story-teller.”

—Bill Moyers

“Profoundly disturbing.”

—Kai Bird

“Details with precision the perilous place we are in as a country.”

—Amy Hanauer
$23.00
$19.55

Pre-order now at 15% off. Books will ship in July.

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 320 pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781682196021
  • E-book ISBN 9781682196038
  • Publication July 2024

about the bookabout

Resisting the Right is a handbook for how to survive a right-wing autocracy in the United States. Frighteningly, that scenario looks increasingly likely.

The victory of a Republican, either Trump or another far right candidate, in the November 2024 presidential election, could be a prelude to the destruction of America’s democratic system, making a subsequent change of power almost impossible.

That, Robert Edwards argues in this powerful and necessary intervention, is an eventuality for which we must prepare now.

Resisting the Right fast forwards past the ebb and flow of daily politics to a long-range preview of life under such an autocracy. It is structured as a practical guide, setting out how such a regime can be combatted using political action, civil disobedience, economics, cyberspace, traditional media, social media, the arts, and even our personal relationships.

Edwards, a former US Army intelligence officer who now works as a successful screenwriter, draws on his military training to assess “the threat,” combining it with a storyteller’s imagination to play out possible scenarios to their logical conclusion.

In a year when the future of America democracy teeters on a knife edge, the urgency of Resisting the Right could not be more acute.

About The Author / Editor

Robert Edwards was previously an infantry and intelligence officer in the US Army. A winner of the Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he has written numerous screenplays for all the major studios, directed the feature films Land of the Blind starring Ralph Fiennes and Donald Sutherland, and When I Live My Life Over Again (aka One More Time) starring Christopher Walken, and produced the documentaries Sumo East and West and The Last Laugh with his wife Ferne Pearlstein. He writes The King’s Necktie, a blog about politics.

Read An Excerpt

HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE

Over our nearly 250 years as a sovereign state, Americans have come to take long-term political stability in this country for granted. We are lucky in that regard, and spoiled.

In 1980, Tom Wolfe opined that, “The real lesson of Watergate was, what a stable country! Here you’ve got the president forced out of office, and yet the tanks don’t roll, the junta is never formed.”i True enough. But an unfortunate by-product of that stability is a complacency that makes it hard for many among us to register when a clear and present domestic danger has arisen. Talk of an authoritarian takeover, the rise of a police state, and similar alarms are often greeted with scoffing and eye-rolls, dismissed as a vast overreaction, fever dreams better suited to bad dystopian fiction, or worse, the dishonest fearmongering of those with a political agenda of their own. “It can’t happen here,” as the saying goes. But it can and it is.

In their 2018 book How Democracies Die, the Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt write: “If, twenty-five years ago, someone had described to you a country in which candidates threatened to lock up their rivals, political opponents accused the government of stealing the election or establishing a dictatorship, and parties used their legislative majorities to impeach presidents and steal supreme court seats, you might have thought of Ecuador or Romania. You probably would not have thought of the United States.”ii Levitsky and Ziblatt report that on Freedom House’s Global Freedom Index, where the US had for years routinely ranked among the most democratic countries in the world, it has now sunk “lower than every established democracy in Western Europe” . . . lower even “than new or historically troubled democracies such as Argentina, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Taiwan.”

But in fact, there have been autocratic elements in play in the US since the very founding of this country, varying from region to region and in prevalence and measure, largely aimed at vulnerable minority populations and women (not a minority), usually defined by race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, political belief, and place of origin.

In an October 2022 piece for The New York Times, Jamelle Bouie writes that “for most of this country’s history, America’s democratic institutions and procedures and ideals existed alongside forms of exclusion, domination and authoritarianism.”iii Dating back to the 1890s, “close to three generations of American elites lived with and largely accepted the existence of a political system that made a mockery of American ideals of self-government and the rule of law.” Black Americans who suffered under slavery and under Jim Crow, and then under various other forms of bigotry, discrimination, and oppression—including horrifically violent terrorism perpetrated both by state and non-state actors—have been waging a resistance movement in this nation for more than four centuries. Women, who got the right to vote barely a hundred years ago, were long barred from full participation in the work force, in the military, in athletics, and in numerous other aspects of American life. To this day, they earn only seventy cents on average for every dollar that men do. Gay people, trans people, Jews, Muslims, adherents of other faiths, atheists, immigrants . . . the list of marginalized and openly oppressed communities goes on.

In short, the American promise of “liberty and justice for all” has long been only aspirational . . . or less charitably, a hoax perpetrated by the privileged classes who had access to those things and did not much care that others did not. What is new in our current moment is the expansion of that autocracy to the broader culture, and to populations that heretofore have escaped its impact.

Apropos of the public response to Watergate, the second part of Tom Wolfe’s comment from that 1980 Rolling Stone interview is also worth recalling.

“I don’t think there was even a drunk Republican who went out and threw a brick through a saloon window!” Wolfe said. “Everyone enjoyed it. That was the greatest show on earth. Everyone sat back and watched it on television and enjoyed it when Jerry Ford, who had been handpicked by the man they just threw out, stumbled from one side of the country to the other.”iv 

Allowing for hyperbole for comic effect, Wolfe may have been right, at the time. But the zeitgeist has changed considerably in the intervening 43 years. In retrospect, it feels almost quaint that a President with demonstrable disregard for the rule of law, imperial in his view of his office, who committed wanton war crimes and showed himself more than willing to employ the full power of the federal government in order to protect his grip on power, nonetheless had enough respect for American democracy to abdicate, rather than putting the fundamental stability of our governmental system at risk. A subsequent Republican President, 47 years later, would do no such thing, nor would any Senators from his party ask him to, as the Republicans of Nixon’s time had done. On the contrary, all but seven of them voted to acquit him of crimes that virtually all of them knew he had committed.

A country that allows a powerful group of would-be autocrats to try to overthrow the government—and get away with it—is a country whose days as a democracy are numbered. As the saying goes, a failed coup that meets with no consequences is just a dry run.

There has hardly been an existential emergency of this magnitude for the United States since the Second World War, and in some ways, this one is worse.v It’s one thing to be conquered by an authoritarian foreign power, which the US did not come close to in the Forties. It’s another thing to willingly tear down your own 240-year-old democracy and institute a homegrown autocracy.

Alarmism, you say? Chicken Little-like howling concerning the sky’s imminent collapse? Perhaps. But over the past several years we have been repeatedly told that the “system” is stable and that various frightening actors pose no real threat. And yet at nearly every turn, things have taken a darker and more pernicious turn than even the most nervous observer predicted. If there’s one thing the election of Donald Trump should have taught us is that in nothing in American politics is too far-fetched.

Ironically, pollsters tell us that a great many Americans of all political persuasions do recognize that our democracy is under unprecedented threat and are deeply worried about it. But what Democrats and Republicans see as the nature of that threat varies diametrically. That itself is part of the crisis.vi

The threat to the very heart of representative democracy in America could hardly be more dire. We are in the political equivalent of a housefire, and there can be no ignoring the flames licking up the walls and beams and rafters all around us. Perhaps we will get lucky and the fire will die out, but the laws of physics tell us that that is not likely…. particularly when there are enthusiastic arsonists pouring gasoline on the blaze.

in the media

Resisting the Right

sub-heading:
How to Survive the Gathering Storm
Foreword by
JAMES CARROLL

“Combines the revelations of unfolding tragedy with the artistry of a story-teller.”

—Bill Moyers

“Profoundly disturbing.”

—Kai Bird

“Details with precision the perilous place we are in as a country.”

—Amy Hanauer
$23.00
$19.55

Pre-order now at 15% off. Books will ship in July.

Pre-Order Now

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the bookabout

Resisting the Right is a handbook for how to survive a right-wing autocracy in the United States. Frighteningly, that scenario looks increasingly likely.

The victory of a Republican, either Trump or another far right candidate, in the November 2024 presidential election, could be a prelude to the destruction of America’s democratic system, making a subsequent change of power almost impossible.

That, Robert Edwards argues in this powerful and necessary intervention, is an eventuality for which we must prepare now.

Resisting the Right fast forwards past the ebb and flow of daily politics to a long-range preview of life under such an autocracy. It is structured as a practical guide, setting out how such a regime can be combatted using political action, civil disobedience, economics, cyberspace, traditional media, social media, the arts, and even our personal relationships.

Edwards, a former US Army intelligence officer who now works as a successful screenwriter, draws on his military training to assess “the threat,” combining it with a storyteller’s imagination to play out possible scenarios to their logical conclusion.

In a year when the future of America democracy teeters on a knife edge, the urgency of Resisting the Right could not be more acute.

About The Author / Editor

Robert Edwards was previously an infantry and intelligence officer in the US Army. A winner of the Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he has written numerous screenplays for all the major studios, directed the feature films Land of the Blind starring Ralph Fiennes and Donald Sutherland, and When I Live My Life Over Again (aka One More Time) starring Christopher Walken, and produced the documentaries Sumo East and West and The Last Laugh with his wife Ferne Pearlstein. He writes The King’s Necktie, a blog about politics.

Read An Excerpt

HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE

Over our nearly 250 years as a sovereign state, Americans have come to take long-term political stability in this country for granted. We are lucky in that regard, and spoiled.

In 1980, Tom Wolfe opined that, “The real lesson of Watergate was, what a stable country! Here you’ve got the president forced out of office, and yet the tanks don’t roll, the junta is never formed.”i True enough. But an unfortunate by-product of that stability is a complacency that makes it hard for many among us to register when a clear and present domestic danger has arisen. Talk of an authoritarian takeover, the rise of a police state, and similar alarms are often greeted with scoffing and eye-rolls, dismissed as a vast overreaction, fever dreams better suited to bad dystopian fiction, or worse, the dishonest fearmongering of those with a political agenda of their own. “It can’t happen here,” as the saying goes. But it can and it is.

In their 2018 book How Democracies Die, the Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt write: “If, twenty-five years ago, someone had described to you a country in which candidates threatened to lock up their rivals, political opponents accused the government of stealing the election or establishing a dictatorship, and parties used their legislative majorities to impeach presidents and steal supreme court seats, you might have thought of Ecuador or Romania. You probably would not have thought of the United States.”ii Levitsky and Ziblatt report that on Freedom House’s Global Freedom Index, where the US had for years routinely ranked among the most democratic countries in the world, it has now sunk “lower than every established democracy in Western Europe” . . . lower even “than new or historically troubled democracies such as Argentina, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Taiwan.”

But in fact, there have been autocratic elements in play in the US since the very founding of this country, varying from region to region and in prevalence and measure, largely aimed at vulnerable minority populations and women (not a minority), usually defined by race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, political belief, and place of origin.

In an October 2022 piece for The New York Times, Jamelle Bouie writes that “for most of this country’s history, America’s democratic institutions and procedures and ideals existed alongside forms of exclusion, domination and authoritarianism.”iii Dating back to the 1890s, “close to three generations of American elites lived with and largely accepted the existence of a political system that made a mockery of American ideals of self-government and the rule of law.” Black Americans who suffered under slavery and under Jim Crow, and then under various other forms of bigotry, discrimination, and oppression—including horrifically violent terrorism perpetrated both by state and non-state actors—have been waging a resistance movement in this nation for more than four centuries. Women, who got the right to vote barely a hundred years ago, were long barred from full participation in the work force, in the military, in athletics, and in numerous other aspects of American life. To this day, they earn only seventy cents on average for every dollar that men do. Gay people, trans people, Jews, Muslims, adherents of other faiths, atheists, immigrants . . . the list of marginalized and openly oppressed communities goes on.

In short, the American promise of “liberty and justice for all” has long been only aspirational . . . or less charitably, a hoax perpetrated by the privileged classes who had access to those things and did not much care that others did not. What is new in our current moment is the expansion of that autocracy to the broader culture, and to populations that heretofore have escaped its impact.

Apropos of the public response to Watergate, the second part of Tom Wolfe’s comment from that 1980 Rolling Stone interview is also worth recalling.

“I don’t think there was even a drunk Republican who went out and threw a brick through a saloon window!” Wolfe said. “Everyone enjoyed it. That was the greatest show on earth. Everyone sat back and watched it on television and enjoyed it when Jerry Ford, who had been handpicked by the man they just threw out, stumbled from one side of the country to the other.”iv 

Allowing for hyperbole for comic effect, Wolfe may have been right, at the time. But the zeitgeist has changed considerably in the intervening 43 years. In retrospect, it feels almost quaint that a President with demonstrable disregard for the rule of law, imperial in his view of his office, who committed wanton war crimes and showed himself more than willing to employ the full power of the federal government in order to protect his grip on power, nonetheless had enough respect for American democracy to abdicate, rather than putting the fundamental stability of our governmental system at risk. A subsequent Republican President, 47 years later, would do no such thing, nor would any Senators from his party ask him to, as the Republicans of Nixon’s time had done. On the contrary, all but seven of them voted to acquit him of crimes that virtually all of them knew he had committed.

A country that allows a powerful group of would-be autocrats to try to overthrow the government—and get away with it—is a country whose days as a democracy are numbered. As the saying goes, a failed coup that meets with no consequences is just a dry run.

There has hardly been an existential emergency of this magnitude for the United States since the Second World War, and in some ways, this one is worse.v It’s one thing to be conquered by an authoritarian foreign power, which the US did not come close to in the Forties. It’s another thing to willingly tear down your own 240-year-old democracy and institute a homegrown autocracy.

Alarmism, you say? Chicken Little-like howling concerning the sky’s imminent collapse? Perhaps. But over the past several years we have been repeatedly told that the “system” is stable and that various frightening actors pose no real threat. And yet at nearly every turn, things have taken a darker and more pernicious turn than even the most nervous observer predicted. If there’s one thing the election of Donald Trump should have taught us is that in nothing in American politics is too far-fetched.

Ironically, pollsters tell us that a great many Americans of all political persuasions do recognize that our democracy is under unprecedented threat and are deeply worried about it. But what Democrats and Republicans see as the nature of that threat varies diametrically. That itself is part of the crisis.vi

The threat to the very heart of representative democracy in America could hardly be more dire. We are in the political equivalent of a housefire, and there can be no ignoring the flames licking up the walls and beams and rafters all around us. Perhaps we will get lucky and the fire will die out, but the laws of physics tell us that that is not likely…. particularly when there are enthusiastic arsonists pouring gasoline on the blaze.

in the media