Ten or so years ago, liberals finally realized that they were way behind conservatives in terms of building a successful political infrastructure. The right had bigger and better-funded think tanks, training institutes, grassroots organizations; and a web of foundations to fund them into which rich conservatives poured billions. A furious game of catch-up commenced, and gains were made. But the most recent election showed (among other things) that the gulf still exists. It wasn’t just the presidential results—losses at all levels exposed a progressive infrastructure severely wanting. This topic is the subject of our lead symposium this issue—suggestions for what the progressive infrastructure needs most from 12 advocates, insiders, and writers, including Donna Brazile, Zephyr Teachout, Jonathan Soros, Ilyse Hogue, and others.
Our second symposium arises from a debate that has roiled the economics profession ever since the meltdown. It was addressed by economist Paul Romer last fall in his paper “The Trouble With Macroeconomics,” which sparked an immediate controversy within the discipline. In addition to giving the wrong answers, are they also asking the wrong questions? The stellar contributor lineup includes Dean Baker, Jared Bernstein, Benjamin Friedman, and Jason Furman.
Elsewhere, Michael Sandel returns to our pages with a brief essay on the Trump resistance. Susan Madrak and Kathleen Geier debate whether a woman—more specifically, a liberal Democratic woman—can ever be elected President. Ryan Avent explores what a Trump Administration might do on monetary policy—and what should be done.
In the books section, we welcome to our pages Annie Lowrey, reviewing James Ledbetter’s rich history of the gold standard; Alice Echols on a new book about the triumphs and setbacks of feminism in the 1970s; Elizabeth Bruenig on the conservative religious writer Rod Dreher; Maira Sutton on the new work by the influential tech sociologist Zeynep Tufekci; and a review of Sidney Blumenthal’s anticipated second volume on Abraham Lincoln by David S. Reynolds. All in all, the issues features some deep engagement with our current situation—but also some much-needed relief from it.