Political Science

The Point of No Return: American Democracy at the Crossroads

How Donald Trump laid waste to American politics, culture, and social order


Published (US):
Apr 11, 2023
Published (UK):
Jun 6, 2023
6.13 x 9.25 in.
38 b/w illus. 1 table.
Political Science
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After Donald Trump’s rise to power, after the 2020 presidential election, after January 6, is American politics past the point of no return? New York Times columnist and political reporter Thomas Byrne Edsall fears that the country may be headed over a cliff, arguing that the election of Donald Trump was the most serious threat to the American political system since the Civil War. In this compelling and illuminating book, Edsall documents how the Trump years ravaged the nation’s politics, culture, and social order. He explains the demographic shifts that helped make Trump’s election possible, and describes the racial and ethnic conflict, culture wars, rural/urban divide, diverging economies of red and blue states, and the transformation of both the Republican and Democratic parties that have left our politics in a state of permanent hostility.

The Point of No Return brings together a series of Edsall’s columns, bookended by a new introduction and conclusion, which show how we got to this dangerous point. These dispatches from our new political landscape chronicle the emergence of what Edsall calls “the not-so-silent white majority” and show how Trump deployed fears about race and immigration to appeal to voters. Edsall examines Trump’s construction of an alternate reality, discusses why we don’t always vote according to our own self-interest, and explores the Democrats’ calibrated response. Considering the 2020 election and its violent aftermath, Edsall looks at the Capitol insurrection and warns that American democracy is under siege. The forces behind Trump’s election, and the “stop the steal” true believers, have pushed the nation to the brink.