With each passing month, we see new and often searing evidence that the climate crisis is deepening. The evidence affirms that a Green New Deal is not some idealistic wish—it’s an environmental and economic necessity.
In this issue, with support from the Open Society Foundations, we present a symposium making the moral case for a Green New Deal and describing how it would be implemented and paid for, what shape it might take legislatively, what long-term targets it would need to hit, and finally, the kind of grassroots movement that would be needed to support and sustain it. Authors include Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who made solving climate change the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He co-authors the lead essay with Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement. Other contributors to the package include former Representative Tom Perriello; Bracken Hendricks and Sam Ricketts, who worked with Governor Inslee; Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who helped develop the Green New Deal; Leah Stokes of UC-Santa Barbara; J.W. Mason of the Roosevelt Institute; and Maurice Mitchell of the Working Families Party.
Les Gelb passed away last year. He was a dear friend of the journal, a board member since our inception—and, of course, one of the most prominent foreign-policy analysts in recent American history. The issue features nine short essays discussing different aspects of Les’s legacy by some of our leading foreign-policy thinkers: Tony Blinken, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Jake Sullivan, Elizabeth Economy, and many more.
The Democratic presidential contenders are talking about a lot of things, but one topic that has been getting surprisingly and disappointingly short shrift is middle-class wages. Here, John E. Schwarz, Harry Lasker, David Callahan, and William C. Coleman present an original proposal for how to structure corporate taxation to incentivize paying higher wages. It’s an approach that deserves wide attention.
Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott respond to Vanessa Williamson’s review of their book. Rahul Gupta, the former health commissioner in West Virginia, reviews an important new book on “deaths of despair.” Adele M. Stan reviews Katherine Stewart’s new book on right-wing religious nationalism, and Arthur Goldhammer reviews Branko Milanovic’s meditation on the future of capitalism
In 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting and a team of researchers in Toronto discovered that insulin, a naturally occurring protein obtained from the pancreases of hogs and cattle, could stabilize the blood-sugar levels of diabetics. They won the Nobel Prize. But they refused to get rich from it. Much as Jonas Salk would say of polio years later, Banting declared: “Insulin belongs to the world, not to me.”
Now we use synthetic insulin, and it does not belong to the world. It belongs to Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi. And Americans pay insulin prices that can only be described as immoral. You hear a lot of people talk about how insulin should be cheaper, as it is in Canada and other countries where the government can negotiate prices. We decided to do all that talk one better. Why not just make it free? Merrill Goozner, a veteran health-care journalist, lays out how it could work.
And here’s the surprise: It’s simpler, and less expensive, than you might think. Now for some political trivia: You likely know that the House of Representatives has 435 members. It’s had 435 since. . . ? The answer is 1912. The population of the country then was 92 million. Why was the line drawn there? Racism and xenophobia, basically. Thomas Downey, who served nine terms in the House as a representative from Long Island, argues that expanding the House—in the right way—can right that historical wrong and help reduce polarization, too.
We have two education-related articles in the feature well. Kevin Carey returns to our pages with an argument for radically reforming school districts to better equalize funding. And Rachel Cohen digs into the little-covered but alarming issue of cyberattacks on our nation’s ill-prepared school systems.
In the books section, editorial board member Isabel Sawhill reviews Binyamin Appelbaum’s important new book on how economists came to dominate the discourse. Stuart Whatley critiques the arguments of one prominent libertarian economist, Tyler Cowen. Vanessa Williamson reviews Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott’s book on the public option. And Lindsay Beyerstein reviews Steven Greenhouse’s new history of the American labor movement.
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.