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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: The Grouchy Leftist

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his Facebook page:

EJ Dionne, in his lengthy and generally sympathetic American Prospect review of John Judis’ new book, The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization, has coined a new term for my old friend and sometimes co-author. Here’s the end of Dionne’s review, where he applauds Judis’ grouchiness:

“[I]t is vital that progressives come to terms with what both of Judis’s books have to teach [about nationalism and populism]. It is certainly a form of willful blindness to underplay the role of racism and prejudice in Trump’s campaign and to deny that racism and nativism motivated a substantial share of his supporters. But in political terms, the more costly mistake would be to assume that all of Trump’s working-class voters were motivated by race alone and that they can therefore never be persuaded to an alternative politics.

The Democrats’ 2018 successes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin suggest that this pessimism is not justified by the electoral facts. And moving the country toward greater harmony (and, yes, justice) across the lines of race, ethnicity, and immigration status requires a new capacity for empathy toward those suffering from the costs of economic dislocation—in African American and Latino inner-city and rural neighborhoods and the old, predominantly white factory and mining towns alike. Judis may be a bit too grumpy about liberals. But his grouchiness should force liberals who live in prosperous precincts to ask themselves what role their indifference to the costs of the last two decades of economic change played in creating the mess we’re in.”

The whole review is worth reading. And the book even more so. Progressives misunderstand the many sided-ness of nationalism at their peril. Judis’ book is the antidote.

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