By Sean Spicer
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2020: THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA
Every four years voters are told the upcoming election is the most important election of their lifetime. The 2020 presidential election is the election that will not only define the next four years but I believe the direction of our nation for years to come. There is no doubt in my mind that the principles that our nation was founded on are at stake.
Only by looking past President Trump’s tweets and the media’s never-ending critique of him can you stop and appreciate all that he has accomplished in just four years. Whether it’s strengthening our economy through a pro-growth agenda of deregulation, tax cuts, and revising trade agreements, rebuilding our military, enacting criminal justice reform, defending religious liberty, protecting the unborn, or appointing two hundred federal judges—which will undoubtedly leave a multigenerational impact on the landscape of our judicial branch—or ensuring our veterans get the services they have earned, President Trump is leading America and has a tremendous record of accomplishments.
For as much as the left likes to talk about justice and compassion, you would think they would be overjoyed to hear that under Trump, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans have achieved the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded, while veterans’ unemployment reached a twenty-year low, women’s unemployment reached a sixty-five-year low, 4 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps, nearly 9,000 Opportunity Zones have been built to invest in minority communities, and the FIRST STEP ACT was passed in what was a historic achievement that ended decades of establishment complacency on criminal justice reform. The act addressed the problems of over-incarceration, racially biased sentencing laws, and recidivism that undermined public trust in the justice system—things that the left claims to champion but were largely silent about when Trump got it done. This should tell you a thing or two about the left’s obsession with identity politics when politically advantageous.
President Trump continues to lead the country forward through action and legislation. The progress of the past four years can all be undone in one election.
Four years ago, Senator Bernie Sanders’s socialist policies were still on the fringe of the Democratic Party. Capitalism was still largely embraced as the backbone of our country. Today Sanders’s ideas are mainstream as the Democratic Party is increasingly embracing the tenets of socialism. Democrats who were once considered moderate now face primaries from the far left. They either adapt and embrace the far left or face defeat. Presumptive Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden is no exception.
These are not vague statements about the left. They are quite literally pledges from the party leaders. This past summer, Biden released a 110-page manifesto of platform proposals penned by none other than himself and Bernie Sanders. Ironically dubbed the “Unity Task Force,” the list is riddled with radical policies that will undoubtedly fuel disunity and division. The two not only vow to erase the monumental progress that President Trump has made on tax reform, immigration, criminal justice reform, and the military, but they also promise to replace it with an agenda that embraces job-killing tax increases, costly and burdensome environmental regulations, government-run health care, open borders, and even an effort to “reimagine policing” by adhering to the radical demands of the “defund the police” movement. At its core, the plan seeks to redefine our great nation as a mere tool of oppression—one that rightfully succumbs to “abolish” culture and, in the words of Biden, needs “revolutionary institutional changes.”
It’s not only capitalism that’s at stake, it is also our constitution. For as long as I can remember, I was taught that the guiding principle of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was based on the concept of allowing for the free expression—and exchange—of ideas. While I might not like or agree with what someone said, I would fight for their right to express it no matter how much I may disagree with it. Unfortunately, this understanding is fading quickly. More and more, our society has delved into a mob mentality that believes that if you don’t share the prevailing leftist view, then you need to be canceled and pushed out to the margins of society.
In July 2020, 153 prominent writers, artists, and thought leaders signed their names to an opinion piece in Harper’s Magazine titled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” They wrote that “the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” They further noted that “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty” was becoming an increasing problem in society. The piece ran in the wake of racial unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and noted: “we refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other… as writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes.”
It wasn’t long before backlash and even retractions from some of the signers ensued. Something that appeared to be uncontroversial and unifying resulted in liberals having to apologize for briefly making so much sense. Welcome to the current state of American society—one in which all politics is personal and all persons are forced to be political.
As White House press secretary, I said, “Democrats are using every tool at their disposal to get in the way of President Trump’s attempt at making America great again.” At the time, I was talking about the obstruction and boycotts of hearings for President Trump’s cabinet members and judicial appointments, but since then, I have seen it not only in the obstruction to the entire Trump agenda, but also within every aspect of life and in every sector of society. I’ve started to realize just how pervasive and cynical their efforts are. If you’re not actively looking for them, much of it can be easily missed. In fact, there are so many things that we see in our day-to-day lives that we don’t realize.
When you send your kids off to school, you’re probably not wondering whether the teachers are instilling in them values that run contrary to your own. I can guarantee you’re not wondering if the lesson plans include the act of stomping on the American flag or if the teachers are instructed to “explicitly reject and resist” your role as a parent. Those ideas certainly never crossed my mind.
Likewise, your college student could probably graduate with honors and go on to earn a PhD without realizing how indoctrinated they are. It happens all the time—and quite frankly, it explains why we’re seeing so many of today’s thought leaders and academic elites lead the liberal agenda at the local level and on the national stage.
You could binge-watch an entire Netflix series without noticing the underlying political agenda that it’s planting into your subconscious. For many folks, tuning into a late-night show or going to see a movie is a way to unwind. But if you pay close attention, you’ll see that Hollywood is one of the left’s most effective tools when it comes to seeding a political narrative or influencing culture.
You could spend hours browsing social media without knowing that your newsfeed is carefully crafted to present you with the information that Silicon Valley leftists want you to see.
You could spend thousands of dollars at your favorite retail chain, never knowing that your money might be funding a political cause that diametrically opposes your values.
We didn’t get here overnight. Each of these institutions in society has been subtly pushing an agenda for decades.
For the left, it’s all politics, all the time. Our country has become so divided that everything now devolves into politics and pits regular Americans against one another. Too often, politics is brought up and people are forced to choose a side.
Are you going to kneel or not?
Will they go to the White House or not?
Will they apologize?
Will they boycott this company?
I’m no stranger to politically charged questions. My job as White House press secretary was to answer them. But these are questions that reflect the partisan political lens that we’re conditioned to look at everything through, politically related or not.
Working in the Trump White House has given me great insight into the inner workings of one of the most out-of-the-box presidential communications operations in modern history. From the outside looking in, the media would have you believe that President Trump is some out-of-control madman because he doesn’t conform to their definition of what a “normal” president should be. They hate that he refuses to stay inside the lines they have drawn for him and instead prefers to circumvent their outdated legacy structures altogether to talk to the people directly.
Left-wing media figures seem to be in a constant state of manufactured outrage because President Trump doesn’t communicate the same way President Obama did. They would have you believe that their frustrations with President Trump stem from his “unpresidential” style of communication. Like most gripes from the mainstream media, this is far from the truth.
Does President Trump tell it like it is? Yes. Does he let the American people know his thoughts through Twitter? Of course. Has he been one of the most consequential presidents in modern American history? Yes.
The fact is the blue checkmark mafia is really just operating from a place of desperation. They have no option but to cling to their poor attempts at moral indignation to promote a clearly partisan agenda. They despise that President Trump understands that speeches don’t change lives—policies do. Where President Obama talked about relief for the poor and middle class, Trump actually cut taxes. Where Obama gave wonderful speeches about creating jobs, President Trump actually cut regulations and ignited an economic boom.
President Obama might have said the right things, but at the end of the day, President Trump is the one implementing the right policies. The left-dominated media can’t report that, though. If they did they would be betraying their true motivating force, the domination of a liberal agenda. The White House press corps is obsessed with tweets, not results. I have come to discover that the questions they don’t ask, the headlines they won’t write, and the stories they chose not to cover are more telling than what they do ask, write, and cover.
I’ve always known that the media and Hollywood tilted left, but over the last couple of years, I’ve experienced firsthand the tactics of the left to control the narrative and drown out voices on the right within every major American institution. From preschools to college campuses, from corporations to Hollywood, from Big Tech to the media, the left has long dominated the most powerful institutions in America. The mainstream media, while popular to blame, is not the cause; rather, it is a symptom of a much broader and multifaceted effort to dominate culture and derail the Trump agenda.
Working with the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Trump campaign, transition team, and administration, serving as a Hollywood character cast member, being a target of Big Tech censorship, speaking on college campuses, and raising children in American schools, I have seen the left from many different angles over the past several years. I’ve been on both sides of the newsroom. I’ve been both the strategist and the interviewer. I’ve shaped the national media narrative and have been shaped by it. I’ve been boycotted, protested, banned, and smeared by the very people I had worked with for years. The boycotts didn’t end when I left the White House, though. As you’ll explore in the forthcoming chapters, I’ve been boycotted and protested everywhere from college campuses to bookstores, and maybe the most absurd, a reality dancing competition.
My experience with Dancing with the Stars is indicative of just that. When simply having a diverse group of people with different opinions on the same stage can no longer be tolerated by the left, you know there’s something much larger at stake. It was not the first time I sparked national outrage, and I’ll be lucky if it is the last. Like millions of Americans, I was guilty of the ultimate crime: being a conservative and supporting the Trump agenda.
Just as they’ve done with everything else, the left turned a dancing reality show into a political battleground. For the left, it wasn’t a dancing competition—it was a competition for everyone, that is, except for anyone who they might disagree with politically. They will stop at nothing in their attempt to turn capitalism into socialism, patriotism into globalism, and American values into progressive values. They’re willing to run small businesses into economic ruin, turn academic institutions into harmful social experiment centers, use children as political pawns, and ruin America’s favorite pastimes with political polarization—and they’re leaving a nearly unrecognizable country in their wake.
Democrats realized that attacking President Trump directly doesn’t get results and are instead directing their disdain at his supporters, so we can only expect my experience to become a reality for millions of more freedom-loving Americans who haven’t already experienced it. The subtle tactics are becoming less subtle by the day, and no American can afford to sit back and watch.
As we go through this book, I’ll be pointing out all of the major attacks on our country, from our history to our Constitution to our deeply held values and beliefs, but my hope is that if we stay the course, we can overcome these things. After reading this book, you will have a clear picture of what’s exactly at stake in the 2020 election and beyond. More important, you will become more intuitively aware of the multifaceted forces, both covert and overt, that are being used to sow division in our country and transform these core values established in the U.S. Constitution. The next time you turn on a TV show, send your kid to school, read your favorite newspaper, or browse the web, you will be equipped with the knowledge to understand the past, present, and future of the leftist movement and the wherewithal to uphold your own ideas and defend your own beliefs—which is exactly what our country’s founders meant when they drafted the First Amendment.
AN OUTSIDER: DANCING WITH THE STARS
Working for President Trump left a lasting impression on my outlook on the intersection of pop culture and politics. He always encouraged people to push the envelope. Without that mentality, he never would have gone from a real estate mogul to reality TV star, and he certainly never would have gone from reality TV star to president of the United States.
He felt that leadership, whether political or not, is about meeting people where they’re at, engaging with them over the things they care about, and then fighting for what you believe in. It’s what allowed him to go against the grain in every industry he was a part of. It’s also his driving force for his current life in public service. He was never one to stick with the status quo or follow the crowd. He recognized that sharing conservative beliefs, or simply being an outspoken conservative in leftist-dominated industries, is harder, but no less important, than sharing beliefs with like-minded people.
As I walk through my entire experience on Dancing with the Stars in this chapter, from my initial conversations with producers to my final goodbye onstage, I highlight the memorable moments, the obstacles, and the lessons I learned along the way. Though each week was different and came with its own unique challenges, I always carried these lessons from working in the White House—the same lessons that encouraged me to dive headfirst into something I never in a million years imagined I would do.
On August 31, 2017, I departed the White House for the last time as an employee. As I walked through the towering black gates, I paused as the metal slammed shut. They seemed unusually loud to me at that moment, and I hesitated just a beat to absorb the magnitude of what remained inside those gates and to reflect on the honor it was to serve. I also knew that this would be the first time in my adult life that I would not be working for a political campaign, the government, or the military. (As with most people who have spent significant time in the political arena, I did have a couple of exceptions to that rule—you could call them small stints “between jobs.”) I was beginning a new chapter of my life, looking forward to exploring new possibilities. The only certainty that I knew was that I had no idea what was to come.
I carved out a nice niche doing some consulting work, doing the rounds on the speaking circuit, making a surprise cameo appearance at the opening of the Emmys in September 2017, and even publishing my first book—The Briefing—in July 2018; it became a New York Times bestseller. I was spending more time with my family and meeting a lot of interesting people along the way, and I was having a lot of fun.
Just prior to leaving the White House, I received a phone call from Deena Katz, one of the co-executive producers of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. She had tracked down my contact information through a mutual friend, Jason Recher, who had worked for high-profile Republicans including Sarah Palin. Governor Palin’s daughter Bristol had appeared on the show, and Jason had gotten to know Deena. Deena flew from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to meet with me and had scheduled lunch for us at the Hay-Adams, a dignified historic hotel situated on 16th Street, on the north side of Lafayette Square, overlooking the White House. It’s a landmark in the nation’s capital, known for having doormen in perfectly pressed suits, polished brass doorknobs, and the scent of fresh lilies filling the air in the lobby. Lunchtime is marked by DC “A-listers” having quiet, confidential conversations. I walked through Lafayette Square and headed to meet Deena to discuss the upcoming season of the show.
As we sat at a table covered with crisp white linens, Deena ran through all of the particulars of the show—how the show worked, how dance partners were chosen, how the practices and preparation were handled. After careful consideration, I had decided the timing was not right, nor did I think it was the appropriate thing to do after immediately leaving the White House. I had already lined up several speeches and appearances and had some leads on consulting opportunities. I was in no position to jump headfirst into something like this, especially considering I was very aware that I lacked any sense of rhythm and would have very little time to prepare prior to launch which would be just a few weeks later.
After leaving the White House, I received quite a few opportunities that didn’t feel right to accept at the time… or ever. I had been offered a significant sum of money to promote a London-based betting system, and I was presented with an opportunity to appear in a commercial during the Super Bowl, among other corporate offers and reality show cameo opportunities that I didn’t think were appropriate. Even the president, after reading a report in the tabloids, asked if I was giving consideration to joining the cast of Dancing with the Stars. No, I told him, I didn’t think it was a good idea at the time and I let him know that I wasn’t a particularly good dancer.
While my initial answer was in the past, I developed a great relationship with Deena. We continued the conversation we began that day at the Hay-Adams. She is kind and caring, yet smart and perceptive—a top-notch professional. She is known for her work on Dancing with the Stars (or DWTS, as the fans call it), The Masked Singer, Celebrity Big Brother, and several other popular shows. Deena has worked in reality TV since its inception with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, a show that she played a key role in creating. She not only has an impressive Hollywood career, but she is also known in political activism circles for her work as an organizer of March for Our Lives as well as one of the executive directors of the Los Angeles Women’s March Foundation. Even though her political leanings are different than mine, we have always found common interests. As we got to know each other, we developed what I believe to be a meaningful relationship. We could respect each other and be friends despite any political differences, a truly novel idea to many. Since our first conversation in Washington, I had come to lean on her and trust her feedback. I had run ideas and opportunities by her that had come my way, and she always gave me sound and constructive advice. I am pretty sure she steered me away from doing some pretty stupid things that the kid in me thought would be “really cool” but would have been professionally (and possibly personally) detrimental.
During one of my trips to Los Angeles, we caught up over coffee and continued our ongoing conversation about my future. One of those talks revisited the possibility of me joining the cast of the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. Deena even discussed potential dancing partners for me. I had been very suspect of doing the show as time went on because of my lack of skill and complete lack of any, I mean any, background in dancing. I was literally the guy in the corner at dances growing up and as I grew older the guy hanging at the bar at weddings. In the sixth grade, my music teacher Mr. Mara had stopped music class while I was attempting to play the snare drum and yelled up to me in the back row of the music hall: “Spicer, you have the sense of beat of a steamroller.” As harsh as that was to hear as a sixth grader (I dropped out of music and opted for study hall), he had a point. Needless to say, I wondered if this was really something I could pull off. Admittedly, I was also wary of jumping back into the national spotlight in such a public way.
As the weeks went on, the conversation about me joining the cast had become more serious. I discussed it with my wife, and we wondered how it would fit into the long-term vision of what I was trying to accomplish. Rebecca reminded me that we had not really even finished the first dance at our own wedding. We had taken one group lesson and realized that we could get away with a few turns and then head off to cut the cake. For almost two years since leaving the White House, I had done everything that I thought I was supposed to do. I focused on building a business, doing consulting work—and I had been honored to attend several really interesting events. I had even dabbled in the media world as a special correspondent for the show Extra. But once in a while, you think you should do something so wildly out of your comfort zone that it would only happen once in your lifetime. I had even been a guest judge of a charity event in the Washington area called DC’s Dancing Stars Gala, which consisted of local personalities dancing to raise money for area causes. I realized that as silly as it might sound, DWTS could be the last opportunity to do this type of thing. There are only so many times people keep asking before an opportunity is gone for good. I figured that maybe this was the time to do DWTS. My son was in favor of it, but my daughter, who has become quite a dancer herself, had seen my dancing up close at two father-daughter dances. She cringed at the idea of me attempting to dance on national TV. She was firmly against having her dad join the show.
Deena told me about the sense of family within the DWTS community. Contestants who had appeared together stayed in touch with each other as well as their dance partners. Unlike other reality shows, there was something unique about Dancing with the Stars. Your job every week was to do the best job you could while having some fun. You are not trying to tear someone down or disparage the other contestants. There is no cash prize or long-term contract. No one is trying to become a professional dancer. The winner literally gets a mirror ball trophy, which I’m sure would fetch a good price on eBay from DWTS die-hards, but it isn’t getting auctioned off at Sotheby’s. It is that uniqueness that set it apart for me. Furthermore, it was actually a show that I could encourage my kids to watch.
I kept my decision-making circle close. I bounced it off a couple of friends, mentors, and people who I thought could give me some honest feedback. The last thing I needed was for this to get out and become a story that would end up blowing up the possibility before I had made a final decision. One person I thought could give me an honest assessment was Bruce Hough, who had served as Utah’s national committeeman to the Republican National Committee during the six years I had worked there. Beyond his service on the RNC, he happened to be the father of DWTS alumni Julianna Hough and Derek Hough. “Can you keep a beat?” Bruce asked. “Kind of,” I sheepishly replied. “Well, if you can do that, you can get by,” he said. Admittedly, saying I could keep a beat was a stretch. Bruce was clear that if I worked hard and was willing to take the instruction, I could get by on the dance floor. I also reached out to Tucker Carlson, who had joined the cast in season three, to get his take about the experience as someone on the right. After weighing the pros and cons, he said, “Why not go for it?”
Slowly, I began to lean into the idea of doing it. I called Deena and told her I was in, but I wanted some reassurances because I suspected there could be backlash. I wanted to know when the going got tough, the tough wouldn’t exit stage right. They had told me that over its first twenty-seven seasons, DWTS had several controversial contestants, including swimmer Ryan Lochte, who competed on season twenty-three while being the subject of a spate of negative publicity for fabricating a story that he and two fellow teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro—which earned him a ten-month suspension from all Olympic and USA Swimming competitions. His first DWTS performance was interrupted by a protestor who stormed the stage, prompting the show to cut to an immediate commercial break while security tackled the guy.
I asked Deena to arrange a call with some network executives. On the call, they assured me that yes, they had my back and were prepared for any backlash involving my connection to President Trump. Before I gave my final yes, I asked everyone that we all take forty-eight hours to think hard about this decision. I asked the executives to go as high as possible at ABC to share my concerns about what could come their way in response to my casting, including potential boycotts and viewers targeting advertisers. Two days went by, and I was told everyone understood my concerns and was willing to back their decision to invite me to be part of the show.
With those assurances, I decided to join the cast of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and signed the paperwork.
I tried to pry from Deena, who would be alongside me on the show. DWTS has a tradition of unveiling its cast and celebrity-dancer pairings live on the air on ABC’s Good Morning America. This year, one of the twists was going to be that the celebrity-dancer pairings wouldn’t be revealed to the cast until the first rehearsal and not to the audience until the first live show. She gave me some hints but nothing I was able to decipher with absolute certainty.
- "Leading America explains exactly why the election this November is even more important than the last, so we can continue Making America Great Again"—President Donald Trump
- "Sean has experienced first hand what our movement and everyone in it faces from the Left and what they're willing to do to stop President Trump and our agenda. He lays out not only how they've infiltrated every major institution - but HOW we can take them back. A must read"—Rush Limbaugh
- "Leading America is a must read. Sean Spicer has seen first hand how the left threatens our American values because of their stronghold on Hollywood, Big Tech, academia, and the media, and his book shows how President Trump will lead us through this battle victorious"—Rep. Steve Scalise
- "Now more than ever we need President Trump Leading America, this book makes the case. Read it and vote."—Sarah Huckabee Sanders
- "The media has become puppets of the Left, Sean explains how what they're doing can damage the fabric of our country and why we must stop them—Governor Mike Huckabee
- "The Left has completely lost their minds. In Leading America Sean lays out their strategy and more importantly how to stop them."—David Webb
- "Sean's book is a fascinating breakdown of the critical culture and political battles going on right now. The book dives into these fights and gives you the essential details you need to win the fight for the future"—Dan Bongino
- "In Sean's new book, Leading America, he gives conservatives an inside account of how liberal bias works so they can combat it. Through personal stories and a sense of humor, he reminds us that liberal elites do not speak for the overwhelming majority of Americans. Whether on college campuses, on the internet, or in popular culture, conservatives need to understand how they are being silenced in order to make their voices heard."—Ambassador Nikki Haley
- On Sale
- Oct 13, 2020
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Center Street