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Politics, Principle and Standing Up to Donald Trump: Moral Courage in the Republican Party

Title: Politics, Principle and Standing Up to Donald Trump
Subtitle: Moral Courage in the Republican Party
Subject Classification: Politics and Government, Morals, Society and Culture, Psychology, History 
BIC Classification: JP, HP, JH
BISAC Classification: POL025000, SOC031000, HIS036070
Binding: Hardback, Paperback, ebook, pp.460
Publication date: 10th June 2024
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-80441-524-5
ISBN (Paperback): 978-1-80441-526-9
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-80441-525-2


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The Muslim ban. Immigrant children, caged, isolated from their families. Downplaying COVID-19. Infatuation with foreign dictators. Voter fraud. Election denial. Encouraging the January 6th 2021 Capital insurrection. Despite Donald Trump’s many legal and moral abuses, most Republican Party leaders continue to support him. Why? How can we explain Republican complicity?

True believers in the MAGA cult are rare. There are moderate Republican members of Congress  – Kevin McCarthy, Lindsay Graham, and Mitch McConnell –  who publicly rebuked Trump, only to later back down and support him and his version of the truth. The motivation driving these powerful political leaders – fear, self-interest, lack of moral fiber – is less interesting than is a related question: What propelled the moral courage of the few traditionally conservative Republicans who refused to go along with Trump and his obvious lies? 

The world saw great physical courage on January 6th, as members of the Capital police fought against overwhelming odds, risking their lives to protect members of Congress. Such physical courage is commendable and rare. Yet moral courage – the willingness to stand up and fight for what you believe is right, even when you know it will cost you – is even rarer. How can we explain why some Republicans followed their consciences, while many others did not? 

This is the topic of this book.  Analyzing in-depth interviews, public speeches, journals, documents, and other data from dedicated Republicans -- Senators McCain, Romney, and Flake, Representatives Kinzinger and Cheney, committed Republican stalwarts Rick Wilson and Anthony Scaramucci, and dedicated Republican officeholders like Miles Taylor -- lends insight into both what drives moral courage, and the double-edged sword aspect of moral courage in politics, in which every act of moral courage is also a complex act of betrayal.


Author: Kristen Monroe is Distinguished Professor of Politics at UC Irvine and Director of its Ethics Center. With over 20 books on politics, ethics, and psychology, Monroe is best known for her award-winning trilogy on altruism and moral choice. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Monroe’s scholarly honors include numerous awards from the International Society of Political Psychology (past president) and the American Political Science Association (past vice-president), plus fellowships to The American Academy in Berlin and Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her most recent books are On Ethics and Economics (with Nobel Laureate Ken Arrow), The Unspoken Morality of Childhood (2022), and When Conscience Calls: Moral Courage in Times of Confusion and Despair (2023).


"As someone who personally experienced the consequences of standing up to Trump during his first impeachment, I find Kristen Monroe's Politics, Principles, and Standing Up to Donald Trump: Moral Courage and the Republican Party to be a resonant and necessary exploration. This book is a crucial reminder that upholding democratic values and ethical principles against the tide of authoritarianism transcends party lines. It serves as both a call to action and a tribute to those who have shown true moral courage for the sake of our country." 

- Alexander Vindman, Director of the Institute for Informed American Leadership, retired US Army lieutenant colonel and former Director for European Affairs for US National Security Council.


“People ask why I stood up to Trump when most Republicans have not. I’ve seen firsthand how great a threat Trump poses to democracy. How he’s coarsened political life, legitimizing a politics of anger and pitting us against one another. The authors do an excellent job of detailing how this happened and why it’s essential that Trump never again hold political office.”

- Anthony Scaramucci, Former Communications Director for Donald Trump


“Brilliantly profiles the moral courage of leading Republicans who stood up to Trump’s desecration of basic institutions and processes of American government up through January 6, 2021, and beyond.  Americans who believe in preserving our founding principles should read this book and remember Franklin’s famous warning that ours is a republic - if we can keep it.” 

- Richard Painter, Chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration 2005-2007


“A terrific contribution to the struggle between freedom and authoritarianism in which we are now engaged. The words of Republican leaders who have the courage to speak out are both chilling and inspiring. Hopefully, this book will help others speak the truth to power and choose a path to a more just future.”

- Heather Booth, social change organizer and founder of JANE 


“An important, careful exploration of one of the more puzzling issues of our time. A complex book for our challenging times.” 

- Dianne Pinderhughes, Professor in the Departments of Africana Studies and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and Past  President of the American and the International Political Science Associations


“A great service, examining how and when public actors exhibit compelling moral courage. Offers hope for our country and lessons for us all.”

- Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, Harvard University and Past President of the American Political Science Association


Illuminates the sources of Republican resistance to what some conservative Republicans regard as a uniquely dangerous individual who has moved to the center of American politics. 

- William A. Galston, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution


“A welcome account of conservative Republican leaders who risked their careers by breaking with Trump.” 

- Milton Lodge, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, SUNY at Stony Brook, and Past President, Midwest Political Science Association


“For years, Kristen Monroe has been political psychology’s go-to for the analysis of the courage of ordinary people who have helped the innocent victims facing evil. Here, she and her students turn their talents to Republican leaders who have stood up against the authoritarian, anti-democratic bullying of the Trump world. Politically conservative themselves, they have had much to lose personally from the risks they have taken. Nothing would seem to be of more importance for our threatened democracy. In the end, evil must be confronted by individuals who are willing to bear great personal costs. This is the most detailed psychological analysis available yet of  the moral decisions they have made in the midst of the most urgent political crisis of our day, and its ripples throughout the globe.”

- David Sears, Professor of Psychology and Political Science and Director of the Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA, and Past President of the ISPP

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