It’s a question that has no doubt nagged at you many times: Can the Constitution survive Donald Trump? It had been pressing on us for some time, so we decided to do something about it and put the question to some very smart people. Democracy editor Michael Tomasky, along with editorial committee members E.J. Dionne Jr. and William Galston, asked questions of a high credentialed quintet: Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution; Arturo Valenzuela of Covington & Burling, an expert in comparative presidential systems; Caroline Fredrickson of the American Constitution Society; Elizabeth Holtzman, frequent MSNBC guests and House Judiciary Committee member during the impeachment of Richard Nixon; and former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. Yep, it’s as interesting as it sounds.
The Democratic candidates are out there on the hustings, but as we saw in the
first debates, foreign policy, as usual, gets second billing. In this issue we have
two leading liberal foreign policy thinkers step into that void. Bruce Jentleson
outlines six principles for a post-Trump progressive foreign policy, and Suzanne
Nossel lays out the steps she argues must be taken to get young progressives
to care again about America’s role in the world. Additionally, John Halpin and
Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress share new polling data that
suggest a narrative frame for the Democratic nominee.
The feature well has more riches still. Yascha Mounk analyzes the global
fortunes of liberal and left-wing parties. Frederick A. O. Schwarz Jr. describes
the best way to fix the Supreme Court. And Tom Schaller, author of the 2008
book Whistling Past Dixie, revisits his controversial thesis.
The book review lineup is tasty, too. Princeton’s Meg Jacobs on Jill Lepore’s
latest. Alan Wolfe on Paul Starr. Hussein Ibish on George Packer’s Richard
Holbrooke. And Zephyr Teachout on Astra Taylor. And to round off the issue,
New America’s Taylor White writes on the challenges confronting vocational
As dark as our time is in so many ways, there exists one great ray of hope: that we may finally have reached the end of the line for neoliberal economics, the theories advanced by Milton Friedman and others in the 1960s and 1970s that replaced Keynesianism as the country’s reigning economic philosophy (and that, frustratingly and for some confusingly, have nothing whatsoever to do with liberalism).
The economy is doing very well at the moment, it’s true; but increasingly, recognition that it’s doing especially well for only a few has grown and grown. More and more people have come to see that the market, left to its own devices, does not distribute goods equitably, that lack of public investment hurts our economic position in the world and our communities, and that all the philanthropy in the world can’t address problems like climate change on anywhere near the scale required. We need taxes, investment, and public purpose.
But if we are to replace neoliberalism, we must have an answer to the question: with what? That’s the question this symposium seeks to answer. With the support of the Hewlett Foundation, we assembled a prominent group of contributors who are deeply engaged in finding that answer. Together, these essays describe what this new economics would look like, and the support structures that would be needed to nurture and sustain it. Let’s get to work.
Our friend Nick Hanauer, the Seattle venture capitalist, has established himself in recent years as probably the leading voice among the zillionaire class for a sensible progressive economic policy built not around more tax cuts for him but around more investments in the middle class. In numerous venues, he’s made a strong case against supply-side economics and the view of human nature (that we’re all just greedy self-maximizers) that underpins it.
In this issue, Hanauer argues that to revive labor, the largest employers must be made to lead the way to pay better wages and benefits—and should be penalized when they fail to. It’s exactly the kind of reform package we need to be talking about: big and bold, but also achievable. Democratic presidential wannabes, take note.
We are—we hope—halfway through the Trump era, which inspired our symposium “Halfway Home,” in which we invite a number of contributors, some old friends of the journal and some first-timers, to share their thoughts about where they think things stand, and what our side needs to be doing as we hurtle toward 2020. Things got better on November 6, but there’s still a lot of building to do, and this symposium helps show the way.
We also publish in this issue two important foreign-policy essays. Daniel Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Obama, assays President Trump’s attacks on NATO, and insists that it must be defended against Trump’s assaults. And Ganesh Sitaraman argues that it’s not right-wing populism that is the real threat to liberal democracy—it’s nationalist oligarchy. Both are bracing and provocative essays. Also, Didi Kuo issues a bracing call for corporate civic responsibility, and Ian Millhiser lays out the controversial case for changing the Supreme Court.
Few conservative writers have made as interesting and thorough a journey in the Trump age as Max Boot. Suzanne Nossel reviews Boot’s new book and comes away only somewhat convinced. Brentin Mock reaches similar conclusions about DeRay Mckesson, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. And Jon Shelton reviews a new book about why Wisconsin, with its strong progressive history, moved to the right in recent years—a movement that, happily, was arrested in November.