Book Review: ‘MAGA Mindset’ by Mike Cernovich

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Sat, Nov 19 - 7:13 pm EDT | 7 months ago by
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    Back in mid-October, the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency was considered outlandish by the mainstream media. Virtually every major polling organization had predicted that Hillary Clinton would emerge victorious in nothing short of a landslide of epic proportions, condemning Trump’s campaign to a fate as an embarrassing political footnote.

    Also in mid-October, author Mike Cernovich and editor Vox Day published the audaciously-titled MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again. A book that alternates between political prognostication and self-help reaffirmation, MAGA Mindset confidently describes the rumbling sociocultural landscape that helped form the framework for Trump’s eventual victory.

    One does not need to read tea leaves to predict how such a bold move could have spelled disaster for Cernovich’s career; while he had already established himself as a powerful social media bellwether for the New Right movement, authoring a pro-Trump manifesto on the eve of his defeat would forever arm his mainstream media nemeses with concrete evidence of Cernovich’s analytical myopia.

    It is this intrepidness on behalf of Cernovich and Day – the MAGA mindset, as it were – that imbues the book’s premise with an indelible potency.

    In a self-effacing origin story of sorts, Cernovich calls himself a “dumb hick from flyover country” who “should not have amounted to much.” Now, though, he has become famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) as the founder of website Danger & Play and as an outspoken Twitter user who coined hashtags #HillarysHealth, #HidingHillary, et al. With 166,000 followers and counting, Cernovich estimates that his account receives over 100 million impressions monthly.

    Vox Day is a bit of a Renaissance man, having dabbled in electronic music, video game development, and science-fiction writing. In 2014, he founded publishing company Castalia House and has published and edited numerous award-winning authors. Along with Cernovich, Day was one of the first prominent social media personalities to join the Gamergate movement, which would become a lightning rod of controversy for its unapologetic stance against corruption in the gaming industry.

    The pair have joined forces in the past, with Cernovich penning the foreword to Cuckservative: How “Conservatives” Betrayed America by John Red Eagle and Vox Day. Their latest endeavor focuses less on immigration policy and more on the forces pulling the country apart from within.

    MAGA Mindset is a concise vivisection of modern American society related in three interconnected parts that detail the grave problems facing open discourse within America, the hegemonic forces that ghoulishly mediate discourse for their own inscrutable purposes, and the mindset one can adopt to extricate himself from the machine.

    As Cernovich argues, we live within a world of safe spaces and trigger warnings, intellectual pacifiers that were birthed within the childproofed echo chambers that today’s college campuses have become.

    “Take microaggressions as an example, a concept that restricts speech by putting political correctness on steroids. … We are informed that microaggressions can occur even if no offense was intended, and even if both parties are unaware that one just occurred,” he writes.

    By accepting microaggressions and other supposed forms of intolerance as dogma, Cernovich continues, we have opened the floodgates for social justice warrior tears to drown out the voices of anyone who deviates from the sanctioned talking points, or anyone whose rhetorical tenor threatens to harm the Left’s delicate sensibilities. Outrage-fueled censorship runs rampant – and voters wanted nothing to do with it.

    “Silencing hundreds of millions of people doesn’t change their minds. It doesn’t make them think any differently. It only makes them angrier and more desperate for someone who can speak for them,” Cernovich writes.

    Look no further than November 8 to figure out who America chose to fulfill that role.

    Much of the shock factor surrounding Hillary’s ignominious defeat can be attributed to the media. The New York Times predicted that she had an 84 percent chance to win. The Huffington Post placed the probability at 98 percent. The ivory-tower denizens of the Princeton Election Consortium smugly peered into their crystal balls and foresaw an upwards of 99 percent likelihood of a Hillary victory. Meanwhile, Trump was invariably portrayed as a bigoted buffoon running a farcical campaign.

    Yet Hillary lost miserably and the prevailing narrative was shattered. According to Cernovich, the devolution of the media from its halcyon days of sacrosanct trustworthiness to its current abysmal status can be traced to that most universal human vice: greed.

    While titans like The New York Times could once translate their massive circulations into aboveboard ad revenue, the times have changed, and many media companies now rely on wealthy financiers to keep their profit-negative enterprises afloat and their glorified propaganda peddlers paid. For The New York Times, that deep-pocketed puppet master is Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim.

    “Why would an incredibly successful businessman like Slim invest in The New York Times, a failing business in a rapidly shrinking industry?” Cernovich wonders. “It’s obvious that Slim isn’t going to make any money from it. … What he buys with those losses is an army of highly-regarded political bloggers who are willing to unhesitatingly lie about Donald Trump on his behalf.”

    Cernovich goes on to expose similarly cozy setups for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the proud new owner of The Washington Post, and Douglas E. Schoen, a Fox News pundit and former Clinton operative who openly advocates for U.S. aggression toward Russia without adequately disclosing the financial windfall he received from a prominent Russia-averse politician in Ukraine.

    As Cernovich succinctly states: “the mainstream media is, for all practical purposes, dead.”

    So, too, is the ideological dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats, Cernovich claims. Where there existed conservative Republicans who fought to uphold their party’s traditional platform, the leftist media’s stifling stranglehold on what constitutes “acceptable” expression has created a new beast: the cuckservatives.

    “A cuckservative is a Republican who enjoys watching his friends on the Right, and indeed, his entire country, get screwed over by the radical Left,” Cernovich writes. “The cuckservatives are the pansies who are happy to argue economics and foreign policy with the Left, but lose their backbones when it comes to race and gender issues. A cuckservative will never have the back of his nominal friends and allies, and instead prefers to join in the left-wing dogpile on fellow right-wingers.”

    This treacherous political movement, which Cernovich attributes to publications like the erstwhile-conservative National Review and other ostensibly right-wing outlets, encourages its followers sacrifice ethical integrity at the altar of career advancement.

    “These status-seeking conservatives work harder to signal their virtue to the Left than they do fighting for us on the Right,” Cernovich writes, suggesting that if they don’t, “then there go all those appearances on the cable news shows and those gentlemanly we-agree-to-disagree discussions with the talking heads of the Left.”

    The ills that Cernovich describes – all-consuming political correctness, a compromised media, the blurring of boundaries between the two major parties – were the factors that drove voters away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump. In the grand scheme of things, though, this election was not about Republican versus Democrat; it was about nationalism versus globalism.

    An unofficial hierarch of the New Right movement, Cernovich has been blasted as a “misogynist” and a “white-nationalist,” treasured slurs hurled by left-leaning pundits that Cernovich skillfully dismantles and defangs. To him, there’s nothing wrong with being white, nationalist, or both, though he prefers the term “American-nationalist.”

    “A nationalist puts the interests of his own country and, by extension, his countrymen, above the interests of other nations. A nationalist puts America first. Nationalists will work with other countries, but only when doing so is in the best interests of the United States of America,” he writes.

    As for the “white” half of the “white-nationalist” epithet, Cernovich makes a case for the decriminalization of whiteness in watertight terms.

    “Uniting for political reasons as whites is also not racist, given how every other racial and ethnic group forms caucuses. Hating blacks or Jews or Eskimos for no other reason than their being black, Jewish, or Eskimo is the real issue. Identifying as a white man and defending your own interests is not,” Cernovich proclaims.

    On the topic of the divide between the sexes, Cernovich aggressively examines the hypocrisy of the radical feminist movement and its proponents, prefacing his remarks with a conciliatory note.

    “For a society to function properly there must be a proper balancing of feminine and masculine energy,” he writes. “Masculinity and femininity are complements, not substitutes. Women and men are neither superior nor inferior to each other. We are co-equals who have different strengths and weaknesses.”

    Cernovich arrives at his points authoritatively yet dexterously, as if to demonstrate his acute understanding of how his opponents can formulate a hit piece from even the most minor misstep within the morass of political correctness. While MAGA Mindset deftly and coherently encapsulates the spirit of the New Right movement in a refreshingly frank manner, it is the titular “mindset” concept that Cernovich most compellingly sells. His argument hinges on the following definition, courtesy of Infogalactic:

    “A mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people that is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices, or tools.”

    Cernovich describes one’s mindset as the gateway to either success or failure and delineates two distinct mindset types, drawing from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. In a nutshell, a fixed mindset accepts failure as a proof of one’s inability to achieve a given goal, while a growth mindset perceives failure as an opportunity to revise one’s approach and try again.

    This is where Cernovich draws the central parallel to Donald Trump’s unlikely path to the presidency. In doing so, he reframes Trump’s meteoric success in business and politics in a way that further humanizes the populist president-elect.

    “You might assume that creating a big identity was easy for Trump, and that it will be hard for you, until you consider the fact that Trump felt the need to apply the very mindset principles you are learning to his own life when he was younger,” Cernovich writes. “Just like you, Trump had to start from the beginning; the man he is now is not the same as the young man he once was.”

    In spelling out his brand of MAGA-themed self-actualization, Cernovich cites several uplifting examples and candidly outlines his own goals, unabashedly charting his journey toward his personal vision of success. While he is the first to acknowledge the impressive magnitude of his accomplishments, Cernovich adopts a relatable, unpretentious tone that feels less like braggadocio and more like mindfulness.

    With his own entry into the sea of self-help books that drip with condescension and reek of profiteering, Cernovich – much like the candidate who inspired MAGA Mindset – strikes a unique chord that will undoubtedly resonate with readers who value straightforwardness over hyperbole. For those who spot the “self-help” tag and immediately roll their eyes, Cernovich’s incisive analysis of the pro-Trump zeitgeist remains well worth the cost of admission.

    Click here to purchase MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again.

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