Missing the Point

Have you ever seen so many partisans running around with their hair on fire as they were yesterday after a short excerpt from the forthcoming book by Donna Brazile, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, was posted on Politico? Oh boy, that was something! So much outrage and fighting!

The reactions have been predictable and totally expected. They are exactly what the publisher wanted in the campaign to promote the book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, which will be released on Tuesday. The most salacious parts of books are always what publishers want distributed ahead of a book’s release. That’s to garner significant media attention and discussion. Hachette, Brazile’s publisher, has been very successful in generating a lot of buzz, that’s for sure. 

Headlines such as, Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC and Former DNC chair torches Clinton in new book, drive the type of media narrative that publishers love, controversy and behind-the-scenes intrigue. This particular publicity campaign is also fueling a fight among prominent Democratic operatives and grassroots activists, which brings even more attention to it.

The problem with pre-release book publicity campaigns, such as this one, is that the message and point of the book can get lost in the gossip and fighting about the excerpts, and the stories and opinion pieces they generate. Many people will form opinions and make incorrect assumptions about the book, without reading it in its entirety. I’m sure that Ms. Brazile has an important message about the systemic problems in her party, and the national security risks from foreign governments’ interfering in our elections, and I hope that doesn’t get lost in the banter about controversial specific actions by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, or anyone else in 2016.

I have some experience with that. My book, No Hope: Why I Left the GOP (and You Should Too), published two years ago, carried a message about how the Republican Party is an untenable coalition, and also about how the two-party system is broken and leaves out the majority of Americans. I used my personal experiences as an openly gay Republican activist, working on issues affecting LGBT Americans, as many of my examples in making my points. Of course, the published excerpts and news stories about my book focused on the behind-the-scenes stories and what I said about specific people. Too many potential readers got the impression that my book was just about how anti-gay the GOP is, something everyone in America already knows. So, it didn’t sell very well.

Interestingly, when I run into people who have read my book, I always get praise for my take on the state of the political system. People agree with my assessment and tell me they hope everyone reads the book.

To be honest, one of my take-aways from the Brazile excerpt, is that I was absolutely correct on a major point I wrote about in my book. I wrote that both of the two-major parties are willing to do anything, including compromising their integrity, to gain and maintain power. That’s certainly appears to be what happened when the financially desperate DNC turned to candidate Hillary Clinton for help in raising money in order to stay afloat.

That’s all to say, at the end of the day, I hope that everyone takes the time to read Brazile’s whole book, rather than making assumptions on its content based on a few pages of juicy gossip that the publisher released to boost pre-sales. I know that I am interested in all of what she has to say, and will be open to learning more about our political process, based on her experiences in 2016.