Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

A recent batch of negative poll figures for U.S. President Joe Biden when pitted against former President Donald Trump has sparked speculation about potential remedies for Democrats’ short-term electoral prospects. A new publication promises a secret recipe for Democratic triumph, not just in the Electoral College but across nearly every state. The book, titled Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes, is co-authored by John Judis, editor-at-large at Talking Points Memo, and Ruy Teixeira, a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. The magical formula proposed in the book advises the Democratic Party to adopt the policy positions and attitudes championed by the authors: socialism from the 1960s and 1970s, without cultural liberalism. It is a prime example of what Matthew Yglesias dubs the pundit’s fallacy, which assumes that a politician’s best course of action to improve their political standing is to align with the pundit’s substantive desires. According to the authors, Democrats should make these policy adjustments for two reasons: they would win more elections, and they would benefit America. The first portion of the book examines the argument for socialism and reviews the past several decades of federal-level electoral politics. Judis and Teixeira assert that whenever Democrats have embraced post-Keynesian economics and organized labor, they have performed well at the ballot box. Conversely, when they have aligned with the business community and free-enterprise system, as they argue Democrats have increasingly done since 1973, they have fared poorly. The argument requires some serious contortions as the authors overlook the fact that Democrats have only lost the popular vote once since Bill Clinton’s adoption of the Third Way in the 1990s. Judis and Teixeira attribute this Democratic decline to the loss of working-class voters, particularly white working-class voters, due to the party’s stances on issues such as desegregation and neoliberalism. Despite this, they fail to provide a persuasive argument for the proposed economic policies’ efficacy or benefits for America. Furthermore, their suggestions for the Democratic Party’s stance on related issues such as race, trans rights, immigration, and climate appear to lack thorough consideration and analysis. Although the book presents some concrete policy recommendations for Democratic campaigns, it largely consists of airing familiar grievances, without convincing policy advice. The authors also demonstrate a lack of attention to detail in their analysis of immigration and climate policy, raising concerns about their overall argument. Ultimately, the book offers a polarizing perspective on the Democratic Party’s path forward and raises questions about the feasibility and potential drawbacks of the authors’ proposed policy shifts.

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