August 1, 2019
Look beyond shallow time
All articles by this author
August 1, 2019
Look beyond shallow time
November 1, 2018
On Jon Favreau’s The Wilderness
If The Wilderness doesn’t ultimately sugarcoat where the Democratic Party finds itself, neither is there a sense of truly deep foreboding. We live in a 50-50 country, the show argues, and we can win elections in that country and make it not quite a 50-50 country anymore, and so overcome the limits in the Madisonian system. But partisan control is what ultimately matters. Unsurprisingly for an Obama alum, Favreau steers clear of vast arenas in the American state that are supposedly apolitical, from the Federal Reserve to the FBI and the CIA and the NSA to, critically, the Supreme Court. Donald Trump has no interest in leaving them as separate citadels of neutral competence. Democrats should think hard about what it would mean to go beyond the platitude about letting the professionals do their work, and formulate a vision to expand the ambit of popular control.
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December 4, 2017
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lets corporations loose to do what they will—and then imposes pain to make the numbers work.
Eventually, perhaps in the reading room of the Trump library, a researcher may actually find a document that sheds some real light on whether Republicans in Washington genuinely think this is their last chance or think that nothing matters so why not grab it all.
July 31, 2017
Why Congress can’t work
The repeal bill still sits on the calendar, but the Republican Party still has no idea what to do about healthcare in any serious way. Their majority is small enough that the procedures in Congress gummed up the works, at least so far. But that may not last forever. Its elites want tax cuts. They accept a mass base that wants ethnonationalism. That fateful embrace is the central fact in contemporary American politics. The consequences go beyond legislative output in Congress to endanger the system itself. Far more than the first branch of government is tied up in the fate of the Republican Party.
December 24, 2016
The Democratic collapse and the ascent of Trumpism.
What I saw in Dover was too much campaign spending and too little party building, a campaign-in-a-box imported from outside, flaunting best practices but tied too weakly into the community, mobilizing too little and too late.
March 11, 2016
Trumpism will not end with Trump. Nor will movement conservatism or organized wealth simply give way. The convulsions on the right have only just begun.
No matter what enthusiasm he generates, Trump is massively unpopular. According to a recent Gallup survey, 30 percent of US adults view him favorably and 63 percent view him unfavorably. Under those circumstances Democrats hold advantages beyond what would be expected given a solid but not spectacular economy, and a party already in office for eight years. Barack Obama is not on the ballot, but Democrats will count on an unreconstructed birther and xenophobe to turn out African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Then add the Republican defectors, the group most uncertain in size and demographics. Ed Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, a must-win state for Trump, telegraphs the strategy, however disappointing to old leftists: “For every one of those blue-collar Democrats he picks up, he will lose to Hillary two socially moderate Republicans and independents in suburban Cleveland, suburban Columbus, suburban Cincinnati, suburban Philadelphia, suburban Pittsburgh, places like that.” Those same suburbanites may well stay home or even blank the presidential vote, giving the “missing white voters” a very different cast than in 2012.
October 13, 2015
An analysis in advance of the first Democratic debate
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a democratic socialist but not a Democrat, seeks the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States. The story is rich with paradox: the Democrat-of-convenience as tribune of the party’s ancestral commitments; the grumpy old man lighting the youth afire; the defender of the working class become darling of the chattering classes; the hero for the left emerging just when so much of it feels so besieged. Yet Sanders is a disarmingly simple figure, a Rip Van Winkle deep in the Green Mountains from a lost age of class politics. His ideology is universalism; his rhetoric is the jeremiad.