The Good Fight
Ruy Teixeira on How the Democrats Lost the Working Class

Ruy Teixeira on How the Democrats Lost the Working Class

Yascha Mounk and Ruy Teixeira discuss what Biden would need to do to rebuild a broad coalition for the 2024 election.

Ruy Teixeira is a political scientist, the co-founder and politics editor of The Liberal Patriot, and the author, with John Judis, of The Emerging Democratic Majority and, most recently, Where Have All the Democrats Gone?: The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes

In this week’s conversation, Yascha Mounk and Ruy Teixeira discuss how Democrats lost the working class and what it might take to win it back; how Teixeira's theory that demographic change would favor the Democratic Party has been misinterpreted; and why Democrats, despite Trump’s unpopularity, have failed to open up a decisive lead in the polls.

The transcript and conversation have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Yascha Mounk: It is January, 2024—who do you think is going to win the presidential elections in the United States? 

Ruy Teixeira: It's always questionable to make predictions, especially about the future. I really think it's a toss up at this point. If you held the election today, Trump might nose it out. But it's not going to be held today. There's a lot of things that can happen between now and November. Trump has manifest, and many, vulnerabilities. I see it as kind of a seesaw election with no clear advantage for either side at this point. I don't see a big victory on either side. And I think, at this point, one would be foolish to say with any certainty which one it's going to be.

Mounk: In a way that sounds like a boring answer, which is to say there’s a big election coming up, and it looks like the Democrat candidate and the Republican candidate both have a chance of winning it, as has often been the case in American history. Of course, what is not boring about the answer, and what is somewhat scary about our political situation is that Donald Trump is not exactly an ordinary political candidate. He is somebody who had not a very distinguished record in his first time in office, who refused to concede the election when he lost; who, however exactly you want to phrase it, inspired, helped to motivate, helped to celebrate a crowd of people who assaulted the United States Capitol in 2021. He is currently facing a variety of charges in a variety of jurisdictions, and, by the way, when you just look at top level approval ratings, he is an extremely unpopular politician.

Teixeira: The funny thing about this is that his approval ratings are actually higher than Biden's. I mean, if you ask people, you know, do you approve of how Donald Trump conducted his presidency, you get a higher approval rating for that than you do about Biden's current conduct of his presidency at this point. But they're both incredibly unpopular. 

Mounk: That's where we get the question: why is it that Democrats aren't able to open a decisive lead on Donald Trump when he is unpopular and has all these liabilities?

Teixeira: My new book with John Judis, Where Have All the Democrats Gone? is really about trying to understand how we got to this point where we have this stalemate between the parties. The Democrats are faced with an opponent with so many vulnerabilities, who is so unpopular in many ways—so why is it that they are basically fighting around the 50-yard line? Why can't they open up a decisive advantage against Trump and his party? The book is trying to explain what's happened to the Democratic Party over the course of the 21st century that's made it so unpopular with so many working class voters that it can't really forge that majority even against someone like Trump, and why Trump himself is actually gaining votes among working class voters, including, scarily enough, nonwhite working class voters. 

Mounk: Why is that? Why has a party that has historically been the party of the working class and that has been in power for a lot of the 20th century come to be so unpopular among the working class in particular?

Teixeira: We look at the divisions that have opened up in American politics in the late 20th century between the working class and college-educated voters, between different geographical areas of the country: the big dynamic metros and the left-behind areas of rural America, small-town America. This really does start to bite in the late 20th century. The Democrats really take their leave of New Deal economics—we could argue about why that happened, but it clearly did—and they embrace sort of soft neoliberalism around issues like trade and regulation, public spending, working class economic benefits and how concerned they were with the left-behind areas of the country. And, importantly, it's over this period that the union movement really declined. And the union movement was a very important working class anchor for the Democrats, both electorally and culturally, and as their influence declines, we see the Democrats start moving in a direction that's more consistent with their burgeoning college-educated base, and this really bursts into full flower in the 21st century.

Mounk: The only kind of skepticism I have towards that story is that when you look at working class voters today, some of them, of course, do want more public services and more public spending and perhaps higher taxes to finance those things. But most of them do not. And the Republican Party is less into public spending and public services and all of those kinds of things. 

I want to understand more carefully the story of how it is that the embrace of moderate economic policy (neoliberal, if you will) economic policies by Democrats has driven working class voters to support a political party that is at least equally guilty (if not, realistically, more guilty) of those sins that you're charging the Democrats with?

Teixeira: It's not like the Democrats were the only neoliberal party, of course. I think both parties in the late 20th century were different versions of somewhat the same thing. But Democrats historically had this anchor to working class voters, they were sort of the tribune of these voters, the party of the common man and woman. And that really gets lost in the late 20th century, with the way that industrialization was affecting different areas of the country, you had the Democrats’ embrace of NAFTA, then China's accession to the WTO, and the big China shock in the early 2000s—these are things that voters reacted very negatively to; that Democrats weren't on their side and basically didn't care about them. That didn't mean that they therefore understood what the Republicans’ economic policies were, and all this stuff, but they definitely felt the Democrats were no longer their party. So this is what happens when a party becomes identified with policies and outcomes that are different from what the voters who historically supported them expected. And they sort of move in the direction of the Republicans.

Mounk: But surely in the 1980s there was a moment of some significant policy distance between Democrats and Republicans, which is to say you had Ronald Reagan changing the discourse on the economy in a much more neoliberal direction. And Democrats at that point were sort of trailing, continuing to speak about the economy in an older language that Reagan was attacking, and then you could argue once Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, and Third Way Democrats became dominant, that Democrats and Republicans came to look more similar. 

I guess I'm just trying to understand what exactly is it that made people change their minds in those communities in the early 1980s, because it doesn't seem to me to be the embrace of a “Washington Consensus” that the center-left came to agree upon 10 or 15 years later?

Teixeira: Well, it’s the facts on the ground; I don't think it's really typically about which philosophy any party is embracing and that the voters understand in any detail. But you can’t understand the reality of the rise of Reagan, and the dissatisfaction of these working class voters from the Democrats, without twinning the changes that were taking place in their communities and in the United States with the stagflation of the ‘70s, and sort of the exhaustion of the Keynesian model that was implicit in Democrats’ economic policies. People basically decided they weren't getting much out of it, they were getting taxed. The Democrats don't seem to know what the hell they're doing. So let's try something different. Maybe government is the problem—and of course that has a lot of cultural resonance around issues around welfare and other things like that. But, basically: government is spending money, but it's not spending money on me but on other people, and it's not even very effective. 

So they embrace someone like Reagan, and then you have the whole “Morning in America” thing. We can argue about just how great the Reagan economy was, but as it recovered from that deep recession in the early ‘80s, people felt pretty good about it. And that really enabled the Republicans to keep a lot of those working class voters over time. They just lost faith in the Democratic Party and their ability to manage the economy and deliver prosperity.

Mounk: That I think was a really helpful, interesting dissection. The story that seems to be told is something like the following. The Democrats had this great thing going, they had this fusion with the working class that voted for them reliably in large numbers, and then they fell into this trap of voting for embracing these neoliberal policies in the 1990s, and that really severed the link to the working class. And if you're telling that story, that seems to be a pretty straightforward upshot, which is that you'd have to go back to the paradise that was there before you had the fall of embracing neoliberalism? You go back to arguing for the welfare state and for more public spending, and so on, and that should in theory be able to reestablish your link with the working class.

But the story, as we've now crystallized it in the last five or ten minutes, is, I think, a little bit more complicated, right? It's that there was a very successful post-war economy in the ‘50s and ‘60s in the United States, Britain and many parts of Europe. Democrats were associated with having built that postwar economy and sustaining it and so people thought that they were guarantors of economic prosperity and growth, but in the 1970s, that model started to run into very in real trouble, into stagflation here, into the Winter of Discontent in the United Kingdom and fears about the sustainability of the welfare state in continental Europe. And it was actually in the early 1980s that the working class started to sever its link from Democrats and the Labour Party and then a significant segment of the working class embraced the very different economic policies of Reagan and Thatcher. And if that's the story, then how to go back to an economy that is more based around the welfare state, and how to convince voters to regain their trust in that kind of economy, is a much more complicated, difficult question.

Teixeira: It's definitely not the case that working class voters woke up one day and realized this strange thing was happening with the Democratic Party who, for no apparent reason, decided it was going to embrace neoliberalism. The Democrats were reacting, in a sense, to the failure of their own model of economic policy and governance which obtained in the ‘70s. There was a sense in which the model had exhausted itself. And as Reagan immortally put it, government was one of the problems, not the solution. Democrats had to figure out a way to deal with it. It certainly wasn't as simple as just talking louder about their model, because they realized it wasn't popular. So in the ‘90s, they did really come to embrace this version of neoliberalism that's much softer and more redistributed. And you can characterize that as “compensate the losers.” There's a very interesting paper by Suresh Naidu, et al on how it moved toward this compensate the losers model—which working class people actually aren't that interested in. This is a mistake that I think a lot of educated, relatively affluent voters make, because they think what voters really want is they just want the welfare state; they just want people to give them a lot of stuff. But what they really liked about the welfare state after World War II wasn't just that there were decent social programs but also a dynamic economy that was growing pretty fast and provided opportunity for people. When the model that produces that growth falters, they're going to look around for something else. And so Democrats thought they needed not just more welfare programs, they needed actually a growth program that would be very effective in the economy and then provide the benefits that they could then redistribute to people. And who knows where that would go? It eventually may get people back on the side of government spending in a more Keynesian model, who knows, but that was their adjustment to it. And the problem with that is even though it worked pretty well, in the ‘90s, particularly in the five years between 1995 and 2000 (if you look at the data, it's very clear this was one of the best times for wages and incomes for working class people), the whole thing seemed to slow down and then ultimately crash in the 2000s.

The Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism wasn't completely frivolous, it was an attempt to come to terms with the changes that have taken place in the country. The problem is, in the end, it didn't work that well as policy and it didn't really repair their connections to the working class. And then you go into the 2000s. And the Democratic Party, not only at least up until the time of Biden doesn't really change his economic model too much, but it actually moves in a cultural direction that's even more out of sync with working class voters. And that's kind of where we are today.

Mounk: Of course, to people in that world, there is a giant difference between John who is a plumber and who works hard to make decent money, even if perhaps he sometimes struggles to pay his medical bills or has other kinds of challenges, and Jack who sits at home and doesn't do anything. If you're telling John, “My vision for the future is that you and Jack are both gonna be living off of the same welfare checks,” John might say, “No, hang on a second, my identity in life is that I'm not Jack. You want to treat me like Jack, that is not what I want.” 

More broadly, I wonder why it is that these more centrist liberals of the 1990s were actually quite successful electorally. Bill Clinton was quite successful, and Tony Blair was exceptionally successful. And I wonder whether there were three things there. One you've mentioned, which is that the economy was working relatively well at the time, and was getting better in particular for poor people in the 1990s and early 2000s in Britain and the U.S, but then it stopped being the case, right? The Great Recession, perhaps a little bit before that the dot-com bust and so on. You started to have a much more challenging economic environment. And so people became, rightly, more disaffected. 

The second piece, I think, is there was something about that moment in the 1990s, which provided a strategic political opening and which really was only available at that particular historical juncture; at that time, there was still a working class that, through unions but also just through ancestral traditions, had this very deep connection to left-wing parties. You had states in the south of the United States continuing to vote for Democrats, even though racial politics told them not to.

Teixeira: Rural areas, Plains states—I mean, people don't realize that it wasn't that long ago that Democrats actually were pretty competitive in a lot of rural areas and rural states, and that has to do with their ancestral connections.

Mounk: I was struck talking to Douglas Alexander, the Scottish Labour politician who's been on this podcast in the past, saying that when he can used to campaign in his constituency, which is a mining district, even if people were skeptical of a Labour Party and so on, they might say, “My gram worked for Labour and my dad voted for Labour, they will turn in their graves if I didn't.” There was a sense of political loyalty. But in the most recent political campaign, Alexander said it felt like “We were offering people a trip to the Mining Museum, but they wanted to go to Euro Disney.” That link to that tradition has just eroded over time, as perhaps it inevitably was going to. I think this is the second reason. 

The third reason, perhaps, is that, culturally, these parties have changed, right? When you look at Bill Clinton or Tony Blair they are modern people who promised a progressive feel, promised to represent a country that is young and changing and diverse in a way that their predecessors didn't. But they were also very culturally moderate. They broke in many important ways with orthodoxies that the left had held previously. When Clinton talked about abortion, it was famously to say that it should be “safe, legal and rare.” Tony Blair promised to be “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.” That seems to have gotten lost when, nowadays, even sort of center-left figures are much more culturally out of tune with the working class than they were a number of decades ago. 

Teixeira: I think that's very true. It goes across all sorts of socio-cultural issues, that for Democrats and left parties in general, their views on these issues seem to be defined more by the views of their college-educated, liberal constituents than they do by anything connected to the working class. And there's a sort of lack of interest even in making your views palatable to members of the working class. 

One thing we talk about in our book is the “shadow party,” this penumbra of activist groups, nonprofits, academia, big sections of the media. It's not exactly a vast conspiracy, but it certainly is a vast collection of groups and intellectuals, and so on, who really heavily influence the Democratic Party on a lot of these cultural issues and make it very toxic for Democratic politicians to to be culturally moderate in the way someone like Bill Clinton was. Politicians are worried if they say anything that's different about this stuff they'll get pilloried on social media and maybe even face a primary challenge. They worry about this all the time. So it's a remarkable change from the kind of attitudes of the New Democrats. Whatever one might say about their economic policies, culturally they had some pretty good ideas: “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime,” abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” and so on. That's very appealing to people, and it's still appealing to people today. That's really the sweet spot of public opinion in this country to this day on a lot of these issues. But neither party is willing to embrace that center position, and the Democrats in particular have moved so far away from it. 

This is sort of related to a great story that I read the other day. This is like in the south of the United States back in the day when the Democrats did pretty well in the South. They're in a school in Tennessee or something and the teacher says, “Okay, where does electricity come from?” “Franklin Delano Roosevelt!” say the kids. Who built our school? “Franklin Delano Roosevelt!” comes the reply among the kids. And okay, “Who created the earth?” and some kid pipes up and says “God!” and another kid yells, “Get that Republican out of here!” It’s unimaginable, anything like that today. There's sort of this gratitude, this connection, this deep reverence for the party that was on their side. And I think that's a lot of the appeal of Trump, sort of fast forwarding. Whatever else you might say about the guy, he gives a lot of voters a visceral sense he's on their side, and the Democrats are not—they look down on them. They are, in the immortal words of Hillary Clinton, “deplorables.” So that counts for a lot. And I think Democrats have a terrible time figuring out how to negotiate that and get back on the right side.

Mounk: What would it look like for Democrats to recapture the center ground on culture, in particular? And how can people like you and me, I suppose, who argue for that respond to the objection that often is made, which is that we want to sacrifice social justice, sacrifice the right principles (such as the interests of vulnerable minority groups), in order to play electoral politics?

What are the ways in which the Democratic coalition would have to change in order to not be toxic in this way among working class voters, and how can we make a case for this which demonstrates that this is driven by a set of principled considerations, rather than merely being a kind of foul electoral compromise that is going to have a hard time passing muster with stakeholders in the Democratic Party.

Teixeira: Well, I would never underestimate the desirability of electoral compromise. I mean, we do live in the real world here. But obviously, you don't want to throw your principles out the window at the same time. And you don't want to, as they say, throw anybody under the bus. The question is, what would actually constitute doing that? What are the principles of the Democratic Party? Are the principles of Democratic Party on race that different races should be favored over others, that we should have reparations, that America is a white supremacist society, that America was born in slavery, marinated in racism, and is a benighted society to this day? Is that a principle of the Democratic Party, or is that a belief of a certain sector of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left, that is now sort of difficult to argue against within the Democratic Party but doesn't even reflect where most voters are coming from? It doesn't even reflect where a lot of nonwhite voters are coming from! So what is the point of this, if it's alienating to voters, and it's not what most voters believe? I mean, that's kind of crazy, right? And if you're throwing anybody under the bus, sticking with the racism example, by insisting on seeing everything in racial terms, basically what is the result of this? It's divisive. It divides your coalition and undermines your political support. If you want to help the people who are the poorest in this society, who are suffering the most—black, white, brown—you actually have to have universal programs that lift people that are acceptable to the broadest possible sector of voters. That's what's really going to help them. What does it help a poor black person in Milwaukee, if you're talking all the time about white supremacy in America and you have all these elaborate diversity programs within professional hierarchies? I'll tell you who it benefits: college-educated black professionals, for example, who derive  a labor market advantage from that. But how does that help most people? You're not throwing anybody under the bus by having a more centrist position. You're simply trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number, which should be the goal of the left-wing party. 

What's wrong with “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”? It's a great slogan. People hate crime! They loathe it. It tears apart their communities. That's what they really care about, public safety. But Democrats are seemingly reluctant to talk about public safety and putting criminals in jail because that would have a disparate impact, when people don't care about disparate impact. Activists care about disparate impact, but normal voters care about getting criminals off the street and making where they live safe. That's what they care about. Anyway, end of rant. But I just think it's preposterous that this involves throwing anybody under the bus other than perhaps a few activists who are supported by foundation grants.

Mounk: Your last very influential book before this one was called The Emerging Democratic Majority. And it ended up being incredibly influential, arguing that, at the moment when Democrats were very depressed about their electoral prospects in the depths of the George W. Bush years, that actually all kinds of demographic trends, as well as economic and urbanistic trends, were going to benefit the Democrats in the years to come; they would be able to build this majority that will be based on urban professionals but also in particular on the fact that the electorate was trending significantly nonwhite, and that nonwhite voters were much more likely to vote for the Democratic Party. This became sort of accepted in a much more simplistic way than you originally posited, as this idea that whatever Democrats do, they really only have to mobilize their true base, which was increasingly thought of as being black and brown people, and black and brown people were thought of as being incredibly progressive. You didn't have to make any trade-offs; you just had to move to the left and spend some money on mobilizing people and boom, we would win every election. And this is how I think a lot of the last 10 or 15 years of American politics can be explained. 

Now, one of the striking trends over that time is that this view, at least in its simplistic version, seems to have misguided us very significantly. Donald Trump was competitive in the 2020 election because he significantly increased the share of the vote among nonwhite voters. And Joe Biden ended up being elected because he significantly increased his share among white voters relative to 2016. But tell us about where we are with that trend and how far it's going to go. 

Where do you situate yourself in that debate, and why?

Teixeira: Going back to The Emerging Democratic Majority, the totally bowdlerized interpretation of it was “demographics are destiny,” these are changes that no one can stop. It's like trying to stop the tide. And because the tide will roll in, and we're on the right side, everything's going to be great in the future. And I actually wrote a piece about that for Persuasion. The worst thing about having a thesis that gets popular is, in the end, people will understand almost nothing of it, except for maybe one sentence. We were very careful back in 2000 to say, “Look, these changes are real. And if Democrats can manage these changes well, with what we call a kind of progressive centrism, they could maybe ride these changes to a dominant position for a while.” But we had a very important caveat, an actual section of the book, where we talked about the white working class: Yes, they're a declining demographic, but they're still huge, and they will be very big for a long time and particularly big in a lot of key states in the Midwest. Therefore, if Democrats continue bleeding support among these voters, the whole political arithmetic we're laying out might not work out that well. 

But that was quickly disregarded. In 2008, Obama wins the election, the coalition looks very much like what we outlined in the book. But people ignore the fact he actually did relatively well among white working class voters. But in 2010, it turned out that that coalition wasn't particularly stable at all. And what drove that sort of catastrophic outcome for the Democrats was bailing out of white working class voters in a lot of sections of the country, including in the Midwest. That should have been a bit of a danger sign. In 2012, Obama comes back and manages to win a second term by running a somewhat populist campaign on the auto bailout and all that against Romney. And again, what people didn't realize about that election—it sort of got summarized by both Democrats and Republicans as this rising American majority powered Obama to a second term; there's some truth to that—he wins that election because he manages to sort of claw back a lot of these voters in the Upper Midwest. Without that he does not win this election. 

Then 2014, another terrible election, the Democrats lose nine Senate seats, and then we get Hillary Clinton coming into the 2016 election. And clearly she and the Democrats have learned nothing, because she basically runs that campaign against the “bad Orange Man.” “We're the good America, the rising America, Trump's a bad man. We're stronger together.” And all of her commercials were about the horrible things that Donald Trump said, with almost none of it related to policy. Whereas if you looked at what Trump ran on, it was trade, immigration, and the elites who don't care about you. I mean, it may not have been the best or the most specific policy stuff, but it was about people's lives and how they're being affected by change and what policy should do about it—of course, he had kind of magical solutions for all these things. But he was speaking to what people really cared about in a lot of areas of the country.

Mounk: It's one of the ways in which I think Trump's campaign this year is going to be rather less effective than 2016. In 2016, he had a very negative vision of where America was, but he had a positive vision of where he wanted to take the country (not a vision that spoke to me, personally, not a vision that was realistic), but he said, “We're gonna deal with the border problem, we're gonna put a lot of money in industry, we're gonna fix your healthcare.” He was making big promises that, if you believed them, people have good reasons to connect to: “I'm going to have health care. Hey, our industry is going to come back.” This year, it feels like his campaign is much more bitter, much more personal, much more based on the injustice done to him, rather than things that he can do for the country. And I wonder whether outside of a fervent supporter base that is one of his vulnerabilities.

Teixeira: His standard rap from 2016, actually, I think would still play pretty well. But I do think it's being overwhelmed by, as you say, bitterness and re-litigating the 2020 election. You know, if I was running the zoo over in Trumpland, I would—well, nobody can get Trump to do anything. But I do think this hurts him. But it's also worth observing that, not to get too into the weeds, Trump is running much better now than he ran in 2016, at this point in the campaign. So that's a little scary. Anyway, the 2016 election really does represent a bit of a cut point for the Democrats in coming to terms with these issues, which is to say they don't come to terms with them. 

Mounk: I have a last question for you, and I'm going to kind of put you in the position of a think tank consultant, because it strikes me that some people respect and appreciate what Biden has done in office, some have a more critical view of his performance in office, but everybody, I think, has some sense of uneasiness about the fact that the Democratic Party is going to be represented by a candidate who is visibly not the youngest man in the world. Now, that boat seems to have sailed. At this point, Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic Party nominee. And if he weren't to be the nominee, because of some very severe and sudden health issues, for instance, then it likely will be Kamala Harris, who is doing significantly worse in the polls. 

But even in terms of how Biden might run the campaign, it feels as though there’s no real debate about what he might do: he's got to say that Bidenomics was great even though a lot of voters, rightly or wrongly, are turned off by that. He's going to be his broadly moderate self, though without distancing himself in any meaningful way from the unpopular parts of the left. And then we're going to roll the dice and hope that somehow that's enough to beat a candidate like Trump, who is very, very dangerous, and has weaknesses of his own. And perhaps that'll work out. But it doesn't sound like a great strategy. That sounds like a pretty damn scary and risky strategy for 2024. 

So, if there’s somebody listening to this, in the White House or somewhere else, is there anything that Biden can still do at this point to address the weaknesses in the image of the Democratic Party and try in particular to make an appeal for some of those working class Democrats that have disappeared?

Teixeira: One thing you left out of what you were saying about their strategy is that they're actually not talking a lot about Bidenomics anymore. What they're primarily talking about is abortion rights and especially democracy: Trump is a semi-fascist; if he's elected, the rule of law will disappear and democracy will die. That's what they're going to run on. And I think the evidence is pretty clear that this is catnip for moderate to liberal college-educated voters. But it isn't that big an issue for working class voters. There was just a CBS poll that asked people the most important issue, and it was like 30% of white college-educated voters said “democracy,” and, among voters as a whole, it was like 10%; among working class voters, it was maybe a little bit less than that. These are big differences. Abortion rights and democracy really are in the wheelhouse of those kinds of voters upon whom they've been relying, upon whom they have the best trendlines. They're not talking a lot about Bidenomics, which has been a failure. But there are things they could talk about in terms of the economy, which would actually connect to the way people actually experience Bidenomics, or the Biden administration, which is about prices. It's all about the cost of living, it's all about the cost of different goods that people consume. There are things that Democrats could say about what they've done on prescription drugs, on junk fees—just throw anything against the wall to see what sticks in terms of giving people the impression you are focused on prices: “We understand the pain and we're trying to do something about it.” 

I do think it would be incumbent upon them not to just punt on all these culturally-inflected issues, but try to do something that sends a different message about what Democrats stand for. And I think the most obvious thing at this point is immigration. This is a huge problem. It's now coming second behind inflation and the economy as an issue that voters are most concerned about and are going to vote on the basis of. And to do that you have to face down the shadow party in the Democrats that is going to cry bloody murder if you try to actually strike a deal with the Republicans on border security. Maybe they'll finally get there. But the main thing is, they probably won't even talk about it. That's what happens whenever Biden does something that’s sort of moderate, he's got to apologize: “I had to do this terrible thing.” It's not a terrible thing! Use that as a lever to talk about how you think the American borders need to be secure. Illegal immigrants are, in fact, illegal. And we want to put a stop to that. And we're going to move to an overhaul of the immigration system that has definite clear pathways for how people can come in legally. And we are going to secure the border. I mean, it's amazing the extent to which so many Democratic politicians don't even want to mention border security, because there are people in the Democratic Party, the moment you do anything along these lines, that scream bloody murder. We're already seeing that. So that's a bit of advice there. Take one of these issues that's culturally-inflected, that Trump is going to run on and will actually be somewhat successful with, and try to turn it around; and talk about what people care about in terms of the cost of living. So, such is my advice, we'll see how it works. The Democratic Party realistically is not going to really change its approach in a big way, if it does, until after 2024, because we're now in campaign cycle madness. But even within that limited context, I do think there are some things they can do.

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The Good Fight
The podcast that searches for the ideas, policies and strategies that can beat authoritarian populism.