This journal started in 2006, with the Iraq war still blazing, the financial crisis still to come, and progressives in a similarly dour place. And authors back then still tried to see ahead, see what was possible, see how the broad left could fill in the holes being created daily by a robust and headstrong conservative movement.
After the election, a common sentiment among folks like us, and we suspect like you, was some version of “Why bother?” If this can happen, what’s the use in advocacy work or releasing a white paper or even in high-minded political thinking itself? And while there was plenty of that in this office, and many other offices and homes around the country, we got back to it.
Because, hard as it may seem, essays on tax policy, like those of Lily Batchelder and Kim Clausing, still matter. Reviews on whether technological growth is a thing of the past, like Stephen Rose’s, still matter. Coverage of other countries, like Sophia Pandya’s rundown of the escalating situation in Turkey, still matter. Because government policy, economic trends, and societal change will continue apace, even with a new, very different President.
With that in mind, read a symposium unlike the usual horserace coverage, on the future of liberalism, conservatism, and even language and truth themselves, in the era of Trump. In a new partnership with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, we have the first in a series of articles on some parts of government policy that could make our economy fairer. The first two articles are on how taxation of wealth and inheritances, and how it’s gone badly astray. Also in the feature well, essays on protecting workers from “big data,” an urgent topic that’s often missing in technology coverage. Finally, Yascha Mounk tells us what’s wrong with the politics of “personal responsibility,” but also what should be saved from it, Henry Farrell diagnoses the ills in British politics.
It’s the heat of the strangest and most disturbing election of our lifetimes—a statement that is undeniably true whether you’re 12 or 102. We couldn’t let this election pass without comment. That said, we decided the world didn’t need another dissection of the Republican candidate. So we offer up a short symposium on some of the more hidden keys to this election. Is working-class feminism a potent electoral strategy? Will latent sexism in the electorate reveal itself in the vote? Will “household economics” be enough? How big a deal will the Supreme Court be? What is this “Latino community”? And where will the Sanders movement go, in November and beyond? Respectively, Thomas Sugrue, Ellen Fitzpatrick, Mark Schmitt, Brianne Gorod, Fernand Amandi, and Theda Skocpol provide answers.
Next, we look at the unconventional ways to unleash greater economic growth. In conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation, we asked leading experts in a range of areas, from health care to antitrust law to always overlooked areas like labor mobility: What kinds of laws, rules, and practices are holding back growth, and how can they be changed to unleash it? I can promise that you will learn something interesting in each of the pieces.
Elsewhere, Richard Vague offers a new answer to the question of what’s holding back the global economy: private debt. Mohja Kahf of the University of Arkansas responds to our lively “Islam and Liberalism” roundtable discussion from the last issue. Henry Aaron reviews Samuel Bowles’s The Moral Economy. Danny Postel considers the long-awaited new volume on Iran’s internal domestic politics by the journalist Laura Secor. And Joshua Holland digs into a new book urging us all to pray for the day when our economy more resembles that found in Star Trek.
That would be great. But first, let’s make it through this election; then we’ll worry about living long and prospering.
It was strange thing to do, just as the Internet age was roaring to life, to start a quarterly print journal. But that’s just what Kenneth Baer and Andrei Cherny decided the broad political left needed, as they explain in their essay in the closing pages of this, our Tenth Anniversary
issue. And here we are, a decade later, going, really, stronger than ever.
We run excerpts from nearly 40 of our pieces over the years, from the memorable ones like Elizabeth Warren’s article on the need for a consumer financial protection bureau (which of course now exists) to smaller gems like Martin Kettle’s sharp-eyed piece on Christopher Hitchens.
Elsewhere, we offer up a symposium on the accomplishments—and shortcomings—of the Obama Administration in the economic realm. Our friend and board member E.J. Dionne Jr. writes the introduction to that collection. Another friend and board member, Nick Hanauer, explains why the right needs people to believe that jobs go down as wages go up—it’s how they keep people from demanding their share. Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of PEN American Center, tackles the issue of the disturbing increase in autocrats cracking down on civil-society groups working in their countries and outlines a response. And we have what we think is a really interesting roundtable discussion featuring four progressive Muslim Americans—Representative Keith Ellison among them—offering their thoughts on the liberal roots of Islam and the situation the religion faces today in America.
Diane Coyle reviews Branko Milanovic’s new book on global inequality. Rob Stein, the founder of the Democracy Alliance, takes on Jane Mayer’s important new Koch brothers book. Brook Wilensky-Lanford consider the history of American utopian movements, and Richard Just responds to Joseph S. Nye’s essay from the last issue on America, the election, and the world.