George Packer,BOOK REVIEW: Last Best Hope — America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer
Charles Moscowitz new book: Sociology for Conservatives-An American Conservative social theory
BOOK REVIEW: Last Best Hope, George Packer
Last Best Hope reads like a secular version of a devoutly religious fundamentalist text. Embracing the style and the overall tonality of a 19th Century preacher, George Packer comes across in this book like a spellbinder thundering at a tent meeting barnburner except with a healthy dose of eastern seaboard snark. His passions and his rage, however, bubble just below the surface of a sophisticated and euphemistic style, one that is often couched with innuendo and double speak, as he launches into this highly urbane and cool liberal intellectual diatribe. Packer quite ably analyzes our current society by identifying four social groups that emerged and may be the result of fissures that run through American life and culture. He makes a convincing case regarding the existence of those deep and widening fissures which he claims became exposed during the pandemic. He worries about the social contract as he writes that “the common skeleton is unknitting and likely to fall apart in a heap of bones.” (9.) He suggests various means by which the four separate and disparate groups that he identifies might come together to avoid a complete breakdown. To his credit, Packer accomplishes this daunting task without resorting to utopian bromides as he is, if anything else, a liberal realist and a functioning institutionalist as described by early 20th Century French sociologist Emile Durkheim. In the prologue, he describes his visceral reaction while driving home and encountering a Trump election placard on his neighbor’s lawn. This caused him to shudder over the “evil shape” (6.) as if he had just tangled with Satan. His response to the “dark, baneful” image was that he pushed the image away as if the very existence of the incumbent Republican President was too horrifying an apparition for him to contemplate. Without bothering to offer any attribution and lacking any semblance of rationality he refers to the hateful ruler. He expresses a sense of alacrity and shock over how President Trump could have possibly gained the approval of good neighbors.
Two inflammatory and ridiculous themes emerge as the cause of his venom against Trump and, by proxy, against his supporters along with the seventy-four million plus Americans to vote for Trump in 2020. Those utterly false charges, which he threads through the text and which he barely articulates in a manner that could even remotely be argued with evidence or even with basic elements of cognition, is that Donald
Trump is a racist and a fascist. These two lies can be easily dismissed by even a cursory study of the issue and yet he regurgitates this pablum, which is the stock and trade of much of our liberal establishment, throughout the book. These two falsehoods are an informal part of a cult-like oath that must be intoned by the Trump haters as, indeed, the intonement of various versions of these two lies has served as the key to the outer portico of social acceptance.
Packer turns his considerable firepower in the direction of Americans who have dared to express concern over whether the 2020 election was stolen. We shall put aside the fact that a large segment of the liberal establishment and their followers pushed the conspiracy theory that Trump stole the 2016 election in collusion with Putin and while serving as Putin’s spy. We might also look the other way at the agitation of the pussy-hat rallies, Antifa, and other Democrat shock-troops who routinely yelled that Trump was not my president while pushing the old communist phrase “resistance.”
Packer claims that concerns on the part of Americans that the election might have been stolen, a concern that is consistently held by an average of 60% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats according to numerous polls, is his evidence that something has gone wrong with the last best hope of earth. Paradoxically Packer acknowledges and criticizes the mainstream media for its liberal bias and partisanship, yet he does not question
why this same media did nothing to investigate the election fraud charges. He is silent over the fact that the mainstream media, which he accurately describes as liberal dominated, suppressed stories about election fraud and demonized and denounced, in a Stalinist fashion, anyone who brought up these issues.
I wonder if Packer might, in the interest of knitting together the common skeleton as he might say, join Trump supporters in support of the most logical means of putting to bed these persistent rumors about the 2020 election once and for all which would be to get behind forensic audits.
Packer perfectly encapsulates the party line of the left, the propaganda narrative, the since discredited and debunked conspiracy theories, the spirit of contempt, hatred and derision, in the following passage:
Before vacating his office, Trump left behind one last lie, bigger than all the others, a tale of the worst betrayal of democracy in American history: the presidential election had been stolen. Hundreds of Republican elected officials broke their oaths in order to advance the lie, and 70 percent of Republican voters believed it, and this belief brought the year to its apocalyptic end two weeks before Inauguration Day, on January 6, when a mob that Trump had summoned to Washington and incited to march on Congress just as it was voting to ratify his opponent’s victory — 20,000 neo-Confederate seditionists, QAnon conspiracists, white supremacists, and swag wearing Trumpists, with their hats and flags and face paint, their sagging bellies and jeans,- stormed the Capitol and looked for members of Congress to lynch, or else milled around taking selfies, while Trump watched with pleasure on TV, until our exhausted democracy mustered one last effort to save itself from destruction.
While reading Last Best Hope I struggled in my own mind as to whether or not George Packer, a brilliant writer who imparts many excellent insights, is a conscious propagandist for the left or whether he is a sincere victim of the Trump derangement that has been promoted by elements of a fully conscious establishment since Trump came down off the elevator at Trump Tower. As a sidebar, I should note that Packer offers a clear and
excellent explanation of the definition of Critical Race Theory, an explanation that I appreciate. Nevertheless, I lean toward the conclusion that with this book Packer is acting as a fully conscious propagandist against Trump.
Packer mentions, in passing, that as a young man Packer states that he hated Ronald Reagan and that he worked for an un-named socialist organization for over a decade. These factors, along with the overall left leaning philosophical and political tone of Last Best Hope, lead me to conclude that Packer wanted to contribute toward taking down Trump as a potential candidate for president in 2024 and, by proxy, to Marginalize the movement that he inspired. Packer is no knee-jerk Trump hater. He recognized that Trump is the leader of a conservative movement that threatens the entire rotten liberal political and social edifice that has been built up in America over the last century. Packer is a good liberal party man, and he should not, as such, pretend to pose as a uniter which is superficially the theme of this book. His weeping over a divided America are crocodile tears.
Packer’s book is fatally flawed, and he is part of the problem. He contributes towards a deepening of the fissures that now wrack our society since the pandemic due to his irrational and inexplicable hatred for Donald Trump and his supporters. While he presents a rational and, I would suggest, a brilliantly moderate liberal analysis of American society in 2020–2021, at the same time his hair goes on fire with white-hot rage whenever he mentions Trump. Ironically, many of the positions that he so carefully articulates as positive and progressive in this book are the same positions that Donald Trump and his movement advocate.