The Washington Post magazine’s package on the Democrats’ move to the left included a piece I wrote. I featured that the other day but there were some other pieces that I wanted bring to people’s attention. I particularly liked this take by Dani Rodrik, who puts Trumpism and the response of the left in its proper, big picture context. Rodrik’s (short) piece in its entirety:
“Somewhat less than a third of likely voters say they will support President Trump in the 2020 election regardless of the Democratic Party nominee, according to the annual American Values Survey, conducted in recent months by the Public Religion Research Institute. This leaves more than two-thirds of the electorate up for grabs.
Whether progressive candidates on the left — Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — can claim a large enough share of these potential swing voters will depend less on inherent ideological predispositions than on the framing of the policy issues. True, the term “socialism” evokes mostly negative connotations among Republican-leaning voters. At the same time, according to the PRRI survey, nearly half (47 percent) of Republicans think “progressive” describes them somewhat or very well. And health care and jobs are two of the top three critical issues for uncommitted Americans. (The other is terrorism.)
Academic studies show that the disappearance of good jobs and attendant economic anxieties are key drivers behind the rejection of centrist politicians at the polls in both the United States and Europe. The areas of the country that went for Trump in 2016 after having voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 lagged significantly behind the rest of the country in expanding employment and economic opportunity. Their relative position has continued to deteriorate in the first two years of Trump’s administration.
Trump won in those “flipped counties” by wrapping a nativist narrative around their residents’ discontent. A progressive Democratic candidate would instead offer remedies that directly treat the causes — by redressing fundamental power imbalances in the economy and through public investment in education, social programs, infrastructure and job creation financed by more-progressive taxation.
The choice that the Democratic Party faces is this: It can treat Donald Trump as an aberration and prop up an economic regime that reproduces the status quo ante with cosmetic fixes. Or it can treat Trump as a symptom of an unsustainably unjust economic system that needs to be reformed at its core. Only the latter path will prevent the emergence of future Trumps.”
That’s a key point about the long game on Trumpism. It’s not just a matter of winning the 2020 election, as important as that is.