In 2002, sociologist Ruy Teixeira (and co-author John Judis) published The Emerging Democratic Majority, a diagnosis and prescription for the Democratic Party that the New York Times later called “one of the most influential political books of the 21st century.” The book argued that the United States was changing demographically, economically, and ideologically in ways that could benefit Democrats electorally. All too often, however, the book’s thesis was interpreted as a “demographics is destiny” argument, positing that population growth among a left-leaning “rising American electorate” — including young people, minorities, college-educated professionals, and single women — inevitably would lead to Democratic landslides. Teixeira, however, maintained that this winning Democratic coalition would only be possible if the party retained a strong level of white working-class support. 

Over time, and particularly after the 2016 election, Teixeira continued to insist that the Democrats, as they tilted toward college-educated voters, were repelling their working-class supporters by embracing cultural leftism and racial identitarianism as well as writing off all of Trump’s working-class voters as irredeemable racists and xenophobes. Such criticism was increasingly unwelcome in Democratic circles and Teixeira’s employment at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, where he had been a fellow since 2003, became untenable. In 2022 his departure from CAP, and his subsequent hiring at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, made national headlines. 

In this podcast episode, Teixeira discusses his founding of The Liberal Patriot, which has recently expanded from a newsletter into an online publication and nonprofit organization, and the tough-love criticism he has continued to offer to the Democratic Party. Teixeira believes that the Democrats’ long-term electoral viability depends upon their being able to regain at least some level of rural and working-class support by moving to the center on cultural issues, promoting an abundance agenda, and embracing patriotism and liberal nationalism. Teixeira is no fan of the current inception of the Republican Party, which he says no longer has any real idea of what it needs to do in order to be a successful conservative party again. But, he adds, “it also became the case over time that the Democrats lost track of what it would take to be a successful and productive liberal party, and how to be the actual party of the ordinary America, which is their historical brand and where they’ve had the greatest success.”

Ruy Teixeira: Republicans have really lost track of what they need to be to be a successful conservative party. It also became the case over time that the Democrats lost track of what it would take to be a successful and productive liberal party.

Geoff Kabaservice: Hello! I’m Geoff Kabaservice from the Niskanen Center. Welcome to the Vital Center Podcast, where we try to sort through the problems of the muddled, moderate majority of Americans, drawing upon history, biography, and current events. And I’m delighted to be joined today by Ruy Teixeira, the noted political scientist, commentator, and demographer. He was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress from 2003 to 2022, and last year he joined the American Enterprise Institute as a non-resident senior fellow. His work there focuses on the transformation of party coalitions and the future of American electoral politics. He is the author of numerous books including a book expected to be out later this year entitled Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. And he is the co-founder and politics editor of The Liberal Patriot, which recently expanded from a part-time newsletter into a full-time online publication and nonprofit organization. Welcome, Ruy!

Ruy Teixeira: Glad to be here, Geoff. Thanks for having me. And I just want to invite all your listeners to subscribe to The Liberal Patriot, because not only is it great, it’s free. We don’t ask for money, we just want your attention for some thoughtful commentary and analysis. That’s all we ask.

Geoff Kabaservice: And how will they find you, Ruy?

Ruy Teixeira: Well, just Google “The Liberal Patriot” and that puppy will come right up. And you just click on that and then you click “subscribe.” It couldn’t be easier.

Geoff Kabaservice: Well, that’s great! And congratulations on the ascent of The Liberal Patriot.

Ruy Teixeira: Thanks so much.

Geoff Kabaservice: What does this new expansion entail?

Ruy Teixeira: Well, the new expansion entails several things. Most obviously, we are now including a lot of other contributors. Basically for the first couple of years we ran off of our own efforts: myself, John Halin, Brian Katulis, and Peter Juul, all people who were at the Center for American Progress at the time, and now we’re sort of all defrocked and in other places. But we would each write a column a week, and that’s kind of how we expanded. But now we have some backing and we’re bringing in lots of other contributors. Like today, we had John Judis writing about the Trump indictment. We are going to have a regular monthly feature column from Tim Ryan, the guy who almost became senator from Ohio and gave J. D. Vance a good run for his money. He is going to write “Dispatches from the Heartland” for us. Michael Baharaeen of Blue Compass Analytics wrote an interesting column for us about the shortfall of Democratic votes in urban areas, core urban areas as opposed to suburbs, and what that means for the Democrats, particularly in Rust Belt states.

We have stuff about foreign policy. We have stuff about the philosophy of life, the fate of the universe, that sort of thing. We try to cover a wide remit. And above all our commitment is to promote a free-ranging dialogue in the center-right and center-left to people who want a more moderate and effective politics and don’t really endorse the extremes of either the Democratic or Republican parties.

We’re also going to do some polling. We are going to do about five big nationwide polls a year with 3,000 people. And we’re going to look at evolving issues and really, in a sense, drill down in this question: Who is the middle? Who are they? Demographically, politically, attitudinally, where are they located? There’s a lot of people out there, Geoff, who I don’t think we understand very well be because they’re so not like us. They don’t think about politics a lot. And those are the people we need to engage and reach, and who will ultimately decide which direction the U.S. goes in politically. It’s not only the moderate middle, but to some extent the non-political. It’s the non-political-junkie middle. They just don’t think and talk and act like we do, and we need to understand them better. So that’s one of our goals.

We’re also going to do some policy work to try to sketch out a Liberal Patriot program on a variety of different areas like globalization, the workforce development, the so-called green transition, and lots of things. We may even have a podcast, who knows? And if we have a podcast you’ll have to come on. But we are trying to be a much broader and more full-service, as you say, nonprofit organization — so not just Substack that puts out a bunch of columns from us. We want to involve lots more people, we want to do lots more things. We want to really be a hub for the kind of discussion I was alluding to — which would include you, for example. You, Geoff Kabaservice, could write for The Liberal Patriot. We would welcome you.

Geoff Kabaservice: Thank you, I would look forward to that. I have been a big fan even of those early columns from when you started The Liberal Patriot in 2021. But I’m curious to know more about why you felt moved to start The Liberal Patriot.

Ruy Teixeira: Oh, okay. That’s a good question. It kind of went down like this… The cabal I mentioned — the four people — we were all at CAP, we were friends, we talked a lot. We would go see music together, drink beer together. And we would frequently grouse about where we thought CAP was going and that they seemed to be ever less of a think tank, ever more of an advocacy organization. There was ever less actual thinking about what we were doing. There was more of a sort of “epistemic closure,” as people used to say about the conservatives. It was true of these liberals as well, we thought: that nobody was willing to think new thoughts. People were mostly focused on trying to support whatever the Democrats had done last week and what they might do next week.

And that just wasn’t very interesting, especially if you didn’t think the Democrats were moving in a productive direction. You couldn’t really criticize that from within CAP, though we were plenty dubious about what was going on ever since the ascension of Trump. A lot of us had felt, certainly me in particular, that Democrats had really not understood the message the electorate was sending, were really not understanding the way the country was evolving politically, were definitely making the wrong decision and really just typecasting all Trump voters as racist and xenophobic and that’s all there was to it.

And there was this emerging working-class problem that the Democrats had that they weren’t adequately speaking to. Basically they were becoming hegemonized by college-educated liberals, particularly in metro areas, who speak and talk and think in a certain kind of way, and think everyone else should too, and look down upon those who don’t.

So that was the genesis of our discussions. And then when the pandemic hit, we wound up deciding we’d just talk once a week to keep in touch. And we kept on thinking, “We’ve got to do something. We should do something. This is going off the rails.” And certainly that was underscored for us in the George Floyd summer. That’s really kind of where we said, “Oh my God, this is just ridiculous. People are completely losing their minds about this stuff. They’re going all-in on identity politics. People don’t seem to think twice about saying the U.S. is a white supremacist society and that all whites have white privilege, and we must basically emphasize race in everything we say.” And that didn’t strike us as a really productive thing to do, either substantively or politically. And we kept on thinking, “We should do something. We should write a manifesto. We should somehow try to provoke a discussion. Maybe we should have a website.”

And then this thing called Substack came to our attention, which made it really easy to develop a newsletter that could go out to an email list you’d develop. People who would click and subscribe. And it wouldn’t cost you anything. The way Substack makes its money is if you monetize your newsletter on the platform. If you don’t, it’s free for anyone to use. And it’s actually, for what it is, an extremely user-friendly and effective platform.

So we started it, as you said, in early 2021. We actually started it at around the time of the Georgia runoffs and of course the January 6th riots at the Capitol. So it was kind of a weird time to do it in the sense that I think a lot of Democrats — who I guess were more our target audience than not — were convinced we were on the verge of fascism. And they were thinking, “Oh, well, what’s the problem here? We just won the Georgia runoffs. I mean, now we control everything.” But our view is that the Democrats were very, very, very far from having reinvented themselves and they had tremendous vulnerabilities that were preventing them from forming a strong and dominant coalition and really achieving the things they wanted to achieve over the long haul. And its bleeding of working class voters was completely unacceptable for a party of the left, and they needed to approach things differently on both sociocultural issues and I would argue as well on economic issues. But that’s another discussion.

But that’s the genesis of how we started the thing. And we were pleasantly surprised that our readership just kept on going up and up and up and up. It seemed like people were thirsty for this kind of a message that was not reading from either party’s playbook and was just trying to understand what the hell was going on and trying to speak more to the people who feel themselves without a political home at this point. So that’s, in brief, where we came from.

Geoff Kabaservice: The politically homeless: that’s a large demographic. So I’m not surprised that you’ve had success, although I’m glad. Your departure from the Center for American Progress was a big deal inside the Beltway, but also outside of it. The Wall Street Journal even wrote an editorial about it…

Ruy Teixeira: I found “political asylum” at AEI! That was pretty funny. Those wags at the Wall Street Journal!

Geoff Kabaservice: Yes. But it actually seemed significant in the sense that there were other people commenting on the fact that a lot of left-leaning organizations had been disintegrating, largely under the influence of very left younger staffers coming in, and being unable to prevent disrupting the work of the organizations. So without getting to the exact office politics of it all, is it accurate to say that there was a problem that you saw over your time at the Center for American Progress with people on the left being unwilling to listen to dissent even from their own side?

Ruy Teixeira: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I think there are certainly some organizations, as Ryan Grim detailed in his famous Intercept article, where there was this almost junior staff rebellion, which basically kind of dragooned the leadership into approaching politics in a way they perhaps weren’t completely happy with and really restricted the kinds of things that you could do or say within the organization. But even within a place like CAP, where there was never really that kind of junior staff revolution on that scale, it was nevertheless the case that the junior staff was getting more and more, for want of a better word, “woke,” more and more focused on a certain kind of politics and using a certain kind of language.

And at the same time, I think just as important and probably more important is that the leadership of the organization, the people who were really calling the shots — and even broader than that, in a sense, the reference group was the sort of liberal Democratic Party politicians, they’re the liberal interest groups, the advocacy groups — there was a narrowing of the acceptable realm of discourse within CAP, within these advocacy groups, and within certain sectors of the Democratic Party where you just couldn’t really discuss a lot of issues around crime and immigration, about gender ideology, race essentialism, even about climate.

Is it really the case that we can move rapidly to renewables within 10 or 20 years? Is that really the case? And just what is going on with climate change? What are the costs and benefits here? What are the tradeoffs we have to consider as we move toward an energy transition, which — let’s face it, Geoff, I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but it’s going to take decades. And the idea that we’ll even be net zero by 2050 is probably pretty fanciful.

But that’s not the kind of discussion you can have in most Democratic activist circles these days.They’re all in on the so-called Green New Deal and the sort of related emphasis on renewables. It varies. Some people at least have an interest in nuclear, and I salute them for that. But I’m just saying the range of acceptable discourse was narrow, very narrow. And as a political guy who studies the American electorate, the trends thereof, the evolution of public opinion — it’s kind of ridiculous to be in a place where you can’t actually point out some of the problems with how the Democrats are approaching things relative to what the median voter would think, or even the median non-white working-class voter. People just don’t want to hear this stuff. They want more happy talk about “the rising American electorate” and how we need to mobilize our base, and basically everybody hates MAGA fascists, Trump Republicans, and all we need to do is talk about that a lot, and things will happen.

And look, it’s not completely crazy. What else do they have to talk about these days? Look at what happened in Wisconsin, where they crushed the Republican in the state’s Supreme Court race because they talked a lot about abortion and the Republican was sort of an election nihilist. People hate that stuff. So they won an easy victory. And I think that’s really the Democratic plan at this point, is to run on the association of the Republican Party with Trump and election nihilism — and in terms of an actual issue, abortion. I think that’s kind of it.

Geoff Kabaservice: So let’s step back a moment from current politics. I always ask people who come on this podcast to tell me something about their background. I should say that one of your less heralded achievements is that you have taught Charlie Sykes over at the Bulwark Podcast to correctly pronounce your name — Charlie Sykes, who was put on earth to mangle all names longer than one syllable. Teixeira, I take it, is a Portuguese last name?

Ruy Teixeira: That is correct. I am of Portuguese extraction, at least on my paternal side. My father was actually born in Portugal and immigrated to America, to New York, when he was a young man.

Geoff Kabaservice: I’m guessing you see Hispanic-American identity through a somewhat complicated lens, then.

Ruy Teixeira: Well, right, though I mean… I’m not really qualified as Hispanic, though sometimes I’m accused of being a Hispanic intellectual or something. But the actual… it’s arbitrary rules for deciding Hispanic-ness. Portuguese, especially continental Portuguese… Because that’s my extraction, not Brazilian. If I was Brazilian, I would qualify I think as Hispanic. But since I’m Portuguese Portuguese, I do not. So I really approach Hispanic as an interesting political demographic and try to understand the complexity. That’s something I’ve written about a lot. Regardless of my personal origin story, I just think it’s fascinating the way Hispanic voters have been misunderstood by Democrats. And as a result of that, they’re really starting to lose touch with what a lot of these voters really want and what they’re oriented toward.

Geoff Kabaservice: So tell me something about where you grew up and where you went to school and what some of your influences were.

Ruy Teixeira: Oh wow, okay. This is really some deep cuts here from the Ruy Teixeira life… Well, I grew up around where I am now in Silver Spring, Maryland. I live in another part of Silver Spring, but I grew up near the Parkway Deli and the Rock Creek Gardens apartments in Silver Spring. And I went to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, and then I went to college. Initially I went to Yale, but they kicked me out for too much politics and dope-smoking and not enough studying — that’s a long story. And then I wound up going to the University of Michigan. I was a history major. I was very radical. I was actually involved in Maoist politics. I don’t know how many people you have on the show, Geoff, who were died-in-the-wool Marxist-Leninists at one point, but I was. I was a true believer. I was not a very theoretically unsophisticated Marxist-Leninist, but a Marxist-Leninist nonetheless.

And after a while, I concluded that when I was in Michigan and Ann Arbor… I finally gave up on that and finished school. I figured I needed to do something with my life since a revolution didn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon. So I went to grad school in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they actually had, oddly enough, a program in what was called Class Analysis and Historical Change. And this was Erik Olin Wright’s program, this famous American Marxist. And it was very, very high-theoretical-level Marxism and very pluralistic intellectually, and that interested me.

So I kind of was doing that for a while. And I’ve always been very quantitative, so I was also part of the quantitative stream of the department. And gradually over time, I just… I was still on the left, but I don’t know, Marxism, how much of the variance does it really explain? That’s kind of where I came down. I mean, yeah, it’s definitely got some insights there, but it just doesn’t explain the world as totalistically as Marxists want it to. So I became way more eclectic and pluralistic in my leftism over the course of being in Madison. And by the time I got my Ph.D., I was really typed as more of just a quantitative political sociologist.

Geoff Kabaservice: As you know, a lot of the people around National Review when Bill Buckley started it were repentant former Marxists. And of course a lot of the people who started what became the first iteration of neoconservatism were somewhat reformed Trotskyists as well.

Ruy Teixeira: That’s right. I’m a big sectist — S-E-C-T, sectist. I love the histories of sects and splits and reformations.

Geoff Kabaservice: Is it fair to say that you retain some kind of a greater interest in class politics as opposed to cultural politics as a result of having been a Marxist?

Ruy Teixeira: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that Politico article, I guess they quoted me to that effect: that one thing that put me off of CAP and the current iteration of the left, such as it is, is that they really lost track of class politics. And they really are seemingly inveigled by various boutique ideas about race and gender and the hierarchy and intersecting levels of oppression and all that jazz. And at the end of the day, I’m much more, for want of a better term, a social democrat. I think that there’s an important role for government in terms of the role it plays in the economy, not only just safety-net-type stuff, but also industrial policy and sort of moving the economy in a direction that’s productive for most people.

And that’s the most important thing, because that’s how you’re going to lift up and benefit the largest number of people, the largest number of working- and lower-middle-class people who are the ones who really need assistance. And the idea that we should start slicing and dicing things by race is just a really bad idea politically. And the people who need the most help are the black poor, the Latino poor, the white poor.

I mean, come on… This is what people on the left have always been about. This is leftism. To some extent I think what passes for leftism today, I don’t even know how left it is to some extent because it is so focused on other issues. It is so counterproductive politically, and I think it’s prioritizing things that people on the left have typically not prioritized.

Geoff Kabaservice: Your Ph.D. in sociology on declining voter turnout was published in 1987 as Why Americans Don’t Vote. I understand that even then you were a skeptic of the idea that the path to Democratic victory was just base mobilization.

Ruy Teixeira: Yeah, that’s right. I wrote back in the day for the late, lamented Public Opinion magazine, which came out of AEI, and that’s how I first met Karlyn Bowman. I wrote an article for them coming off of some of the work I’d done on turnout, just pointing out that if you looked at the ’88 election there was this whole sort of Jesse Jackson line on the left of the party about how if we just mobilized the base more aggressively, then we would’ve actually won this election. And I just showed quantitatively that wasn’t true. You could stipulate a higher level of turnout among black voters, but then that wasn’t enough to make up the loss among white middle-class and working-class voters that Dukakis had. So it just didn’t make any sense. You can say whatever you want about mobilizing the base, but the only way the magical thinking works is if you make weird assumptions like a hundred percent of your voters show up and no additional number of the other side shows up. And it certainly didn’t make any sense in the context of the 1988 election.

I think that kind of analysis just comes out of an understanding of the demographics of the actual existing electorate, their proclivities as they are today, and what are the true differences between non-voters and voters. Because it is just not true that non-voters are way more radical than voters, controlling for underlying demographics; in fact, in some ways, they tend to be more on the right, particularly on social issues. So the idea that it’s really a matter of just getting your base out is questionable. And this is something I’ve written about too.

One assumption here… One way it would sort of work is this kind of thing: “Well, let’s assume that our voters, Democratic-leaning voters, let’s say their turnout goes up by 20 points, and let’s assume that the other side’s turnout doesn’t go up at all.” Well, that would be great. That would really work. But the problem is when you have these polarized elections, the other side turns out too. And in fact there’s pretty good political science evidence that the other side tends to turn out more against your super-progressive or extreme positions, which actually then negates the effect of turning out more of your base supporters on the other side. So this is not the royal road to victory, juicing turnout. The royal road to victory is the boring old thing: persuasion. You actually have to convince some people who are inclined to vote for your opponent, or who are at least interested in them, to vote for you. There it is.

Geoff Kabaservice: That’s just so hard, though!

Ruy Teixeira: It’s hard. That’s really what it is: “That’s really hard, man. I really want to say what I want to say and say it really loudly and assume that will pay off at the polls.” You get why people want to believe that, but I just think it’s pretty dumb.

Geoff Kabaservice: I can’t neglect mentioning that in 2002 you published a bestseller co-authored with John Judis which a lot of listeners will have encountered, which is The Emerging Democratic Majority, which the New York Times later called “one of the most influential political books of the 21st century.” And the title of course was playing off of Kevin Phillips’ 1969 bestseller, The Emerging Republican Majority. That book was in part demographic projection, but it was also a strategy calling for the Republican Party to exploit tensions over civil rights and social change, basically, and attract voters in what he called “the Sunbelt” in the South and the West and weld them to the traditionally conservative areas of the Midwest. Out of curiosity, how do you assess the Phillips book in hindsight?

Ruy Teixeira: I think it was pretty prescient. I think he did a crackerjack job, and it certainly worked for quite a while. And I think he did ID a lot of the emerging trends that were reshaping politics. Eventually the analysis ran out of gas; the country was changing in ways that were actually going to make that strategy less useful and call it into question.

And in a sense, that’s what The Emerging Democratic Majority was about. It was about looking at the ways in which the country was changing — demographically, economically, ideologically — and basically making the argument that Democrats were a better match for those changes, and if they played their cards right they could take advantage of appealing to these emerging constituencies that were more oriented toward what we called in the book “progressive centrism.” And by doing that, they could accentuate the contradictions in the Republican coalition and start to move some of these voters in their direction and be able to build — maybe not an FDR-style realignment, but a durable advantage in the electorate.

 I think we were right about a lot of things, but one thing we didn’t really… There were a couple of things we didn’t really understand at the time, even though in 2008, when Obama won such a solid victory and the Democrats looked like they were in the catbird seat, a lot of people thought, “Well, they did figure it out.” But one thing we didn’t really emphasize enough — it was in the book, but people totally ignored it — was the idea that you’ve got to have a very strong level of white working-class support. That doesn’t mean you have to carry them by a majority, but given the actual demographic nature of the United States and given the way certain voters were concentrated in certain states, it just was a case mathematically that you needed to have a pretty strong minority of this vote. And if that started going south on you, it did call the whole strategy into question.

So that was widely ignored, particularly after 2012, interestingly enough, despite the fact that if you take a serious look at the 2012 election, the reason Obama wins certainly isn’t just because the so-called “rising American electorate” turned out for us. It’s because he clawed back a lot of white working-class voters in the upper Midwest from the 2010 debacle by running against Romney as a populist and trying to capitalize on the auto bailout and all that. So that was a message that was not understood, that that was key to the Democrats’ victory in that election. And they just immediately forgot about it and continued putting their chips down on “the rising American electorate.” And then of course we get to Trump in 2016 where he basically rides white working-class voting shifts to the presidency, to everyone’s dismay. So that was one thing I think people didn’t understand about our analysis. If there was a sort of underpinning, it was that the Democrats had to retain the loyalties of a very significant segment of the white working-class voters.

But the other thing was we talked about progressive centrism. We thought Democrats were in a pretty good spot in terms of sort of promoting social tolerance, promoting anti-discrimination, trying to help lift up the most benighted among us. And America really was turning into much more tolerant, liberal society in that sense, and the whole anti-government fever to some extent had declined. Professionals were becoming increasingly influential as a part of the electorate and certainly culturally, and they were inclined toward at least a moderate government activism type of approach. They were public-spirited, public-oriented in a way that, say, managers weren’t, who more into the bottom line.

We had a whole analysis along those lines that suggested that if the Democrats could harness that progressive centrism with a sort of incremental approach to improving things and trying to be in that cultural sweet spot of being progressive but not alarming to traditionalists, that they would benefit over the long haul.

And as we saw in the teens, basically, I think that that totally comes apart. The Democrats really do move very sharply to the left on pretty much any even vaguely cultural issue you can name. We finally got a country where gay marriage was okay with everybody, and they said, “Nope, not enough. We’re going to move toward a society where your kids are taught gender fluidity in kindergarten and there can be 85 different genders and people should declare their pronouns. And oh, did I mention that you have white privilege? And you should probably examine and scrutinize your life very carefully because you are an oppressor.”

So this boutique kind of cultural leftism bled out of the universities into the wider cultural realm and basically took over the media, the advocacy groups, the foundations, the Democratic Party infrastructures. It was really quite remarkable and happened in a relatively short period of time. And certainly it had a big cohort component to it: the generations that came out of the universities in the 21st century have really been much more oriented in this direction. And they pushed it, and they found willing collaborators and older people and institutions and so on.

Anyway, that’s a long story and we try to break it down a lot in our new book, Where Have All the Democrats Gone? We try to put some meat on those bones of how that transformation happened. I try to explain it in various different areas and how that relates to the other big thing we say happened, which was a great divide between the college-educated and the non-college youth, particularly in certain areas of the country. It’s a lot about regional inequality, it’s a lot about the left-behinds in the country, it’s a lot about areas of the country dependent on farming, manufacturing, resource extraction, and so on: places outside of the post-industrial, cosmopolitan metropolitan areas, which now basically are the Democratic heartland, in that sort of way.

And these people became increasingly disenchanted with the Democrats, partly on economic grounds because of what happened in these areas and these communities where they did feel like they were left behind and looked down on. And then you wind up in the 21st century (particularly in the teens) with the Democratic Party, the former “party of the people” of the common man and woman, developing these seeming obsessions with things that just do not resonate at all in the lives of tens of millions of working-class people out there. It became less of a working-class party. It is no longer the party of the working class, just on strict nose-counting criteria. So that’s important.

Geoff Kabaservice: I think it’s actually important to point out to listeners that although you get a lot of grief from the Democratic left online, and although you do offer a lot of tough love toward your party, you are not an independent or a Never Trumper or anything like that. You’re an ardent Democrat. And I think back to a famous post that you and Peter Leyden made on Medium five years ago where you wrote that bipartisan cooperation had already become impossible at that time because of Republicans’ refusal to work with Democrats in good faith or compromise in any way — and this is of course before Trump. And you wrote that the Republican Party “over the last 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history.” And you added that the future of the country really depended on a Republican Party being thoroughly defeated, not just for a political cycle or two but for a generation or two. Have you had any reasons since 2018 to revise that opinion?

Ruy Teixeira: Yeah, I’ve definitely revised my opinion. I do think that neither party is really capable of any kind of solid realignment of American politics at this point. I really overestimated… I was in a space at that point where I was trying to figure out… I didn’t have a lot of faith in the Republican Party, obviously, but I was sort of hoping that the Democrats would concentrate on taking advantage of the contradictions in the Republican Party while keeping their wits about them and their sanity about them. That just didn’t seem to happen. Partly too… I wrote it with Peter Leyden and he was a little bit more sure that the Republicans were down for the count than I was. But as it turned out, I think just in many ways that was an overinterpretation of what was going on.

It was not too hard, and it was correct in many ways, to argue that the Republicans in their current iteration (and certainly in today’s iteration) have really lost track of what it is, what they need to be to be a successful conservative party. But it also became the case over time that the Democrats lost track of what it would take to be a successful and productive liberal party, and how to be the actual party of the ordinary America, which is their historical brand and where they’ve had the greatest success.

California’s a good example of that, because we had assumed when we were writing that California really was a bit of a blueprint for the future. But pretty much all the questions one might have raised about that at the time just became much worse over time. Pretty much every weakness the California Democratic Party had in its approach to politics and policy have just gotten way, way worse, and they haven’t really corrected themselves. So, yeah, I would no longer say California is much of a model for anything. And I think what we should be looking for is better behavior, better policy, and better politics out of both parties.

So I’m no longer so sure the job of all good people is to wish for the Democrats to drive the Republicans out of business. Not that that was likely to happen anyway, but you know what I mean? I don’t think they need to be defeated for a generation at this point. Really, we’re on a seesaw between the parties going back and forth, and what we need is for one party or the other to make a decisive move to the center and to reform themselves in such a way that they are going to be attractive to a solid majority of the American people in some sort of durable way.

Of course, we can’t leave out the possibility this could go on for a long time. It certainly could happen. We could have this sort of despicable, uncomfortable, everybody-hates-it equilibrium between the parties for another number of cycles. There’s no law that says it has to be resolved.

Geoff Kabaservice: We’ve had this kind of World War I trench warfare in politics, with neither side gaining any significant ground, going back really to 1992. But nonetheless, I guess the question is whether the thesis of The Liberal Patriot in some sense is that if the Democrats could distance themselves from the unpopular ideas and the ineffective political strategies of the progressives, would they fare better with the majority of moderate Americans?

Ruy Teixeira: Well, that’s certainly our view. If they were able to do that, they would be able to make a more convincing offer and restore their status as the party of American working class and a party that could command a durable majority. I don’t think it’s just cultural issues, though I think those are very important. I think it’s also a matter of economic strategy. I think that right now the Democrats are way too focused on climate issues, the green agenda, renewables Uber Alles. I don’t think this is actually a very productive economic strategy over the long run.

They’re now countenancing industrial policy, which I think is a good thing. But it’s one thing to countenance industrial policy, it’s another thing to be successful. They’ve shown they’re willing to spend money to try to invest in America, so to speak. But if you’re going to do that, you’ve still got to be able to build stuff. You’ve got to be able to make stuff happen. You’ve got to make the American economy hum. You’ve got to unleash the dynamism of American people, entrepreneurship. And I’m not seeing that, partly I think — and you could argue it’s a little bit related to the cultural stuff — because that is the kind of social policy, economic policy that the people who dominate the Democratic party are comfortable with: “Let’s spend a bunch of money and let’s assume good things will happen. But let’s not touch the regulatory and permitting structure and the general obstacles and bottlenecks that prevent us from actually doing stuff, because that would annoy a lot of the interest groups within the Democratic Party.” I think that has to change.

I think that those two things could change. And my third thing is, they could just become an aggressively patriotic party. But that was in my three-point plan to fix the Democrats. If they could do those three things — move to the center on cultural issues, promote an abundance agenda which includes the kinds of stuff I was just talking about, and embrace patriotism and liberal nationalism — I think they’d be more likely to be successful in the medium or long term than they are now, where I think they’re basically sort of stuck in exactly the kind of trench warfare and equilibrium we’ve been talking about.

They will win some elections, of course they will, especially if the other side is shooting itself in the foot. But I think their ability to build on the contradictions on the other side and actually form a durable majority and really get stuff done — which is what basically what political parties should be all about, is governing well — then I think it’s really going to be limited. And I think that Democrats at this point kid themselves that their problems are in the process of being solved because “Trump and the Republicans are so awful, and besides we did just spend a lot of money — did I mention that? And everything’s going to turn out great, trust us on this.” But I think they’re kidding themselves, I really do.

Geoff Kabaservice: So let’s go back to this question of the Democrats’ loss of the working class and particularly the white working class, although also increasingly minorities who are working class as well. Democratic representative Marcy Kaptur, who represents Ohio’s mostly working-class Ninth District and is the longest-serving female member of the House in American history, recently made a news splash when she pointed out the extent to which Democrats tend to represent the wealthier districts and Republicans tend to represent the poorer districts. And she had a two-page chart that showed the Republicans representing 152 of the 237 congressional seats where the district median income is below the national figure.

And you wrote a piece responding to this where you also pointed out that in 2022, Republicans carried the nationwide working-class House vote by 13 points. In 2020, Trump carried the nationwide working-class presidential vote by four points, and according to the States of Change project data carried the working class vote in 35 out of 50 states, which would seem to be a pretty good basis for a Republican Electoral College victory in the future. And yet the Democrats don’t seem particularly troubled by this. Why is that, Ruy?

Ruy Teixeira: I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. One is that over time they have basically associated their difficulties with the working-class vote as being a matter of white voters who are working-class. And as we all know, “White working-class voters who refuse to recognize their real interest and vote for the Democrats must be blinded by racism, xenophobia, misinformation, and all kinds of other bad stuff, and they really just don’t like this evolving multiracial, multicultural America. That’s the real problem. It’s status threat, it’s racial resentment, et cetera, et cetera.” So I think that’s one reason why they could lose more and more working-class votes over time and not worry about it too much. Or just basically, “We’re on the right side of history here,” to use that phrase, “and over time the white working class is declining and our people are growing and everything will be great.” So I think that was one aspect of it.

Another aspect of it then, which is related, is that they didn’t see that it might actually be possible — and this is where their whole theory starts falling apart — for non-white working-class people to start bailing out because they don’t feel the Democrats are really their party anymore. They’re uncomfortable with it. And that’s certainly been true about Hispanic working-class voters in particular. So that is moving, sort of undercutting that.

And then I think another thing is that if you’re getting at what’s really insulating them from feeling bothered about that, I think it’s really the movement of white college-educated voters in the suburbs in their direction. It wasn’t so long ago where Republicans reliably carried the white college-educated vote. That’s not true anymore. The Democrats now overall have an advantage. It’s been growing and if you look at certain states, it’s really pretty big now. And that has definitely served as a counterbalance to the loss of working-class votes.

So all of this happens gradually, and the character of the party changes over time, and before you know it, things are really different than they were before, and everybody is just comfortable with it. They figure this is just the way the world is. Now, let’s not forget the people who run the Democratic Party today, the people who advise it, their cultural and institutional support in America — these are all this kind of people. They’re all educated, primarily white (but not exclusively of course) liberal people. These are the people they’re comfortable with — their people. And they don’t think a lot about working-class people. And if they think about working-class people, it’s sort of in this primitive way: “Well, we’re doing stuff that’s in their interests, so the only possible reason why they might not vote for us is because they’re manipulated and misinformed by Fox News, and they’re sort of not with the evolving multicultural, multiracial America.”

And there’s the very short summary. It’s easy for them to write off the working-class voters they’ve lost, and it’s easy for them to feel comforted by the people like them who are increasingly becoming strong supporters of their party — and in a quantitative sense certainly are helping to make up for those working-class losses. But in the process, you’ve got this weird going from being a working-class party to being a party that’s dominated by college-educated and particularly college-educated liberals. There are now more white college-educated liberals in the Democratic voting pool than there are non-white working-class voters. So something’s going on here and it’s really making the Democratic Party a different party.

Geoff Kabaservice: A lot of people on the left criticize meritocracy now, and you generally defend it. But I think what you’re defending is merit as a principle, whereas some of what you actually are describing sounds a lot like a criticism of the “-ocracy” part of meritocracy.

Ruy Teixeira: That’s right. The problem with meritocracy isn’t merit as a criterion. It’s a problem with how merit is allocated, and where opportunities for merit are given, and where merit is in fact overridden by networks and so on that allow people who aren’t even very meritorious to act like they have merit and to be rewarded on that basis. Look, equal opportunity was always a great idea. It’s still a great idea. It’s still what Democrats should stand for. And so Democrats shouldn’t be watering down merit criteria. They should be figuring out how more people can have the opportunity to acquire merit, because we should have faith that ordinary people — black, brown, white, red, whatever — they all are capable of acquiring merit if you give them a hand up and give them the opportunities. That’s what America should be about.

The idea that we should allocate slots on the basis of skin color regardless of merit, or really watered-down criteria based on merit — people don’t like that. This is very popular now in the Democratic Party, but you can see, for example, in the polling on affirmative action: Latinos don’t support taking race into account in college. Even black people don’t. I mean, this is ridiculous. This is social policy being made by people who have a certain ideological mindset about the world and purporting to represent the views of people whose views they don’t even represent — because most people in America are pretty normal. They hold basic American values about how people should move ahead in society and how people should be rewarded.

Geoff Kabaservice: It’s worth pointing out that even in California affirmative action was rejected on a ballot initiative.

Ruy Teixeira: Yeah, 57-43.

Geoff Kabaservice: So as long as we’re taking a trip down memory lane here, in 2012 you wrote a review for The New Republic of Joan Walsh’s book What’s the Matter with White People?, which is largely an analysis of why the white working class had already at that time largely abandoned the Democrats and the old New Deal Coalition. And of course, that title was playing off of Thomas Frank’s 2004 book What’s the Matter with Kansas? And Walsh agreed with Frank that Republicans had used social and cultural issues to great effect to pry the white working class away from the Democrats. She also blamed what we would now call neoliberalism in both parties for the disappearance of the kind of middle-class jobs for less-skilled workers that had undergirded a lot of the old faith in government. But Walsh also felt that liberal Democrats even then had begun to vilify the white working class and paint them as what you called “a cartoon portrait of hopelessly racist and mean-spirited enemies of progress.”

Ruy Teixeira: That was good. Did I write that?

Geoff Kabaservice: Yes, you did. But it seemed like a lot of that would be confined to the university campuses and to the sort of progressive support system for the Democratic Party that you talked about. And it seemed possible at that time that you could imagine someone doing what Bill Clinton and his friends at the Democratic Leadership Council had done to reorient the Democratic Party back toward the center. That seems a lot less plausible now, not because there aren’t a whole lot of Bill Clinton-type politicians leading this kind of movement, not only because there isn’t a DLC or other kind of similar institutional infrastructure for that kind of centrist movement, but also because it doesn’t seem that there’s any way to actually restructure the universities and the philanthropies and the think tanks and all these other things toward some kind of new center. Does that analysis seem correct to you, or do you think that can be changed?

Ruy Teixeira: You’re bringing up a lot of interesting things there. When I was listening to you, it just sort of took me back to 2012 and the Obama election when I was at CAP and I wrote that review. And in some ways what I tried to do at CAP, and within orthodox Democratic circles for a long time before and after the 2012 election, was to get people to focus on the necessity of reaching white working-class voters; that you couldn’t mathematically have the kind of coalition you wanted unless you reached more of these voters and you would always be vulnerable to them moving away from you. And in fact, you’ve got to open your mind and try to understand the actual existing electorate of America.

It’s always a bad idea to write people off in a very simplistic way. There are reasons why they might have evolved certain views and certain political behaviors. There are economic factors, there are social factors, there are factors to do with how their communities have evolved. And we need to understand that. And this was part of the ongoing discussion I was having with people in and around the Democratic Party and the work that I was doing.

Fast-forward to leaving…. It was basically, at that point, “I can’t have that discussion. It is not happening. Nobody’s listening. They couldn’t care less about what I’m saying.” And actually, Joan Walsh is sort of an interesting example. I like Joan. I’m still friendly with her. But I do think that while she wrote that book in 2012, I think she has a different outlook today. She writes for The Nation, which is a sort of aggressively left-wing identitarian magazine now. And she herself speaks fairly dismissively of a lot of these voters, I think. And my feeling… I think the Trump thing really blew her mind. I mean, “Yeah, we shouldn’t look down on these white working-class voters. Yeah, we should try to reach them.” But then Trump happened, and I think it really messed with a lot of people’s heads. They just couldn’t wrap their minds around why anyone would vote for this guy. “And even though we might have been looking down at white working-class voters before too much, maybe now that they put Trump into office, maybe we’re sort of justified at this point. And anyway, maybe they’re just hopeless.” Certainly I think that was part of her thinking and the thinking of people like her.

So, yeah, the situation we’re in now is I think we do need a sort of alternative center of gravity within the Democratic Party, a sort of new DLC. And there are people who are working on this. I’m involved in some efforts that may bear fruit along these lines. But there certainly has to be a sort of well-defined alternative within the Democratic Party to what you might call left progressivism or woke progressivism, whatever you want to call it — because they’ve got hegemony. The AOCs don’t run the party, but their philosophy and approach to policy and politics is not too far from hegemonizing the Democratic Party. It certainly determines its image.

And moderates are just people who dissent from this or that particular political plank or this particular policy, but they don’t have their own point of view on things. They’re not a coherent alternative. I mean, there’s not a heartland Democrat that’s really trying to have a distinct faction and point of view that could help Democrats compete in a lot of the places they need to compete where they’re getting their clock cleaned — and that’s just places where they used to be doing well, like Ohio and Iowa.

What about places like North Dakota or Indiana or whatever? I mean, you got to have senators from these places, man. How are you going to win in these states unless there’s a permission structure, a factional structure that allows Democrats who have pretty moderate-to-conservative views on a lot of stuff to run as Democrats? In other words, Manchin would no longer necessarily be the most conservative Democrat. It would be great if there were ten other Democrats who were more conservative than Joe Manchin. Anyway, end of rant. But I think that that’s the direction that Democrats need to think about and to engage with. But we’re very far from that at the current time.

Geoff Kabaservice: One of the most interesting things that I see going on the left is the supply-side progressivism movement…

Ruy Teixeira: Yes, I agree.

Geoff Kabaservice: …or the movement toward abundance, which you have written about eloquently, or just the desire to make government work. Because as you also point out, the Democrats can write checks for infrastructure projects and the like, but that doesn’t mean that anything actually gets built. And I do hope that something comes of that, and I hope that politicians will actually seize upon that largely intellectual movement and try to put it into practice. I haven’t seen that step being taken yet. But if you look at what has happened in other countries in Europe to try to drain some of the animosities that come out of these left-behind areas, you could think of, let’s say, the Strukturwandel in Germany, which is the attempt to redevelop the east where most of the AfD sentiment is, or even to some extent the attempt by the Tories in Britain to “level up.”

Ruy Teixeira: Right, but that wasn’t too successful.

Geoff Kabaservice: That was not too successful. But do you think the Democrats actually have a need to try to redevelop some of these left-behind areas? And would that be in their best interest politically as well as being the right thing to do for the country?

Ruy Teixeira: Absolutely. I do think that. And at The Liberal Patriot, we’re trying to promote that kind of thinking about place-based development in some of these areas that have been left behind. We just had a piece by Tim Bartik from the Upjohn Institute last week, and we hope to feature more content like that. But yeah, I think it’s crucial. It’s central. And I don’t see how you get a lot of these voters back unless you really can offer them something that’s more than the economic trajectory that we’ve seen, where Democrats dominate parts of the country that are tiny in landmass but produce 65% of the GDP and the Republicans dominate the other third where things are not so great and perhaps even going south. I think Democrats need to be the party of prosperity for the ordinary person, and you can’t do that unless you actually concentrate on the places where people aren’t prosperous and things aren’t going well and they aren’t developing.

And that will not be solved just by a general showering of money. You have to have actual policies and strategies to get things done. And that’s where your abundance agenda, supply-side progressivism, and place-based development — I mean, you’ve got to make stuff happen. It’s not going to be enough just to tell people you have all these great programs in mind and you’re willing to actually spend a fair amount of money.

And look, Hillary Clinton had a great rural development program — it looked good on paper, anyway. Nobody had any clue what it was about. And part of the reason for that is… Well, Hillary’s part of the reason for that. But also it’s not part of the Democratic brand at this point. I mean, the average person doesn’t know that much about either of the political parties; they know a few things they associate with it. Are the Democrats associated with lifting up left-behind areas? I don’t think so. But if they talked enough about it and did enough about it, maybe they would be. But that would take some effort.

Geoff Kabaservice: Robert Saldin, who’s a senior fellow at Niskanen and also a professor of political science at the University of Montana, has written a piece for us about the Democrats’ collapse among rural voters.

Ruy Teixeira: Yes, I read it, and they’re advocating for a faction.

Geoff Kabaservice: And he points out that a lot of the rural voters actually support a lot of Democratic positions, such as using the government power to negotiate down the cost of prescription drugs. But Rob also points to some factors like the disappearance of local media in rural areas, as well as the nationalization of politics, as presenting obstacles to the Democratic comeback there. But he also thinks that people like John Tester have shown the way, Tim Ryan in Ohio… I think John Fetterman actually did a reasonably good job campaigning in the rural areas, knowing he could not win them over but could at least cut into Republican margins in those areas.

Ruy Teixeira: Yeah. Actually, the shift toward Fetterman relative to Biden in 2020 was actually bigger in rural areas than it was in most of the other parts of Pennsylvania. It was kind of interesting. I think he was successful. How much of that was image? Image is very important. It’s hard to say. But I think he did kind of send that message, partly by his persona and partly because he showed up in these places. And he’s got that sort of… people in Pennsylvania feel they know him and they know he cares. And that’s good. And I think Oz was a really bad candidate. I mean, if I’m a rural working-class person and I look at Oz and I look at Fetterman and try to figure out which one of these guys is on my side and understands my problems, I can see why some people who might normally have voted Republican voted for Fetterman.

Geoff Kabaservice: It always is tempting to look at the opposite political side and think that their problems are easy to solve. What could be easier for the Democrats than to embrace popular, commonsense positions? Well, obviously it’s not so easy as that. But what do you think in terms of what the Republican Party could do to get their own majorities if the party were so disposed to do that?

Ruy Teixeira: Well, I’m not a political consultant, so my advice is worth, I suppose, what people listening to this paid for it. But there are some obvious things. They could move to the center on cultural issues themselves. Some of the things they object to about the Democrats’ cultural leftism fall on receptive ears, but then they tend to push that too far in the other direction on some of these hot-button issues in schools and what have you. That’s a delicate dance, but I think they could do better there.

I do think the abortion thing is a killer. I think if Republicans could figure out a way to promulgate a moderate pro-choice position — like the first three months abortion on demand, and then after that only with exceptions — that’s really what most voters support. But I think at this point they’re having a real difficulty deciding that’s what they want to do. And they are so affected by what the hardline pro-life part of the party wants to do, and lot of those people really do want to ban abortion totally. So any Republican practically anywhere in the country at this point, basically people associate that candidate with wanting to ban abortion outright. It’s a loser, a big loser.

The Democrats have so many serious vulnerabilities on crime and immigration, on their stance on race and gender ideology, bringing ideology into the schools… There’s a lot to attack there. But they’ve got to do it in a way that’s consistent with where most voters are coming from, which is that they’re not that extreme. DeSantis actually is sort of an interesting example of this. He was probably on good firm ground with the parental rights bill and the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” thing. Despite how Democrats were patting themselves on the back about how they managed to characterize it, the basic stance of the bill — that you should not teach gender ideology to an eight year-old — was actually really popular.

But he’s followed that up with this kind of weird New College thing. I’m sure New College was hardly a paradise of classical learning, but it just looks a little weird when you try to take over these places. And trying to ban some of these… People don’t know much about gender studies programs or whatever, and they may in fact be full of baloney. But when you start talking about how you’re going to get rid of programs, I think that’s a little bit hard for people to process.

And then there’s the whole books thing… I get that you don’t want Gender Queer in your kid’s library. But it was just so easy for the Democrats to portray this as “They just want to ban all books, basically, because those people don’t want you to read.” The whole African-American AP Studies thing was interesting. I thought when it started out that you could make a pretty good case that the original draft was way out there and there was something be said. Then there was a second draft, though, which didn’t get accepted either even though it was much more moderate. He didn’t know when to declare victory, in other words.

Geoff Kabaservice: I think that’s exactly right.

Ruy Teixeira: So that’s a rambling way of saying you’ve got to know when to declare victory when you’re in the sweet spot of the electorate, and not just keep on responding to your base which is trying to push you in a certain direction.

Geoff Kabaservice: I think DeSantis had wedge issues he used to great effect against the Democrats where 80% of the public was on his side. But then he kept going to such an extent that now he’s going to end up on the other end of those wedge issues.

Ruy Teixeira: Yeah. He has some time to recalibrate, and he got other problems to worry about, which is… Well, the really big problem for the Republicans is Trump. Trump, Trump, Trump… How do you get rid of this guy? It’s a tough one. I’m glad I’m not a Republican operative, because I wouldn’t have a good solution to that. But he does basically ruin everything at this point. His stamp on candidates, his stamp on the party is pretty much down-the-line toxic. The Democrats are praying that he’s the presidential candidate because he will be easier to beat than almost anyone else — though as a citizen of the United States I don’t necessarily want to take the risk that Trump could win again, because the idea that couldn’t happen is just wrong to me. It seems to me you have to have some understanding of the fluidity of American politics.

Anyway, they want him to run, and they figure he’ll basically be so bad for down-ticket races that maybe they can even retain the Senate and so on. It’s just bad all around, right? It’s just like the worst thing. But how do you ease this guy out of here? It’s tough. He’s got 30, 35% of the party who’s “nobody but Trump. He’s our guy. There’s no substitutes acceptable.” But there’s a whole ‘nother big chunk of the party that would be willing to consider and support an alternative. But how do you mobilize those people in a strategic way so you get rid of the big orange gorilla in the room? I don’t know. Maybe you know, Geoff, but I don’t know. So far they don’t seem to be doing such a great job of it. We’ll see.

Geoff Kabaservice: If I had the magic bullet I would fire it, but I don’t.

Ruy Teixeira: The other thing I would also mention here is I’m a fan of American Compass and American Affairs and some of the stuff you guys do. There’s a center-right sort of abundance economics and an industrial approach to industrial policy that I think is completely antithetical to what became the standard conservative economic playbook of tax cuts and dereg and “just basically get government out of the way and let the private sector take over and the free market will produce everything people need, and it’ll all trickle down to the people who need it.” That form of economics is not popular. I think its track record is poor, and I think Republicans are still trying to figure a way out of that sort of Reagan-era economics and into a different type of conservative economics that would be more dynamic economically. And that would include a role for government in a lot of important ways, but would be done in a different way than the Democrats would do it.

Geoff Kabaservice: As you’ve pointed out, Reagan did the Republican Party a favor by smashing that kind of Paul Ryan straitjacket of ideology and pointing the way for Republican Party…

Ruy Teixeira: Trump did.

Geoff Kabaservice: Trump did that, yes. Sorry, yes, Trump did that.

Ruy Teixeira: I agree. But now they don’t know what to do with it. It’s like the dog that caught the bus and was like, “Hey, we did it! But what do we do now?”

Geoff Kabaservice: I wish you a lot of luck with this new book you’re coming out with with John Judis. I knew him from way back because he of course wrote a book about Bill Buckley when I was doing all of that research in the Buckley Archives. Is it revisiting your 2002 book The Emerging Democratic Majority, or is it on different themes largely?

Ruy Teixeira: It’s a loose successor, I guess. In the very first part of the book, we do talk about what we got right and what we got wrong in The Emerging Democratic Majority, so we touch on it in that way. But the way the book is structured, as I think I might have mentioned earlier, is that the first part is about the great divide, the way in which the country has evolved economically, the Democrats’ role in that evolution in terms of their soft endorsement of neoliberalism, and the way that’s accentuated the divides in the country, the divides between not only just broadly college and non-college, but between different areas of the country and the left-behind areas we were talking about, and the Democrats’ increasing identification with the dynamic post-industrial, cosmopolitan, highly educated metros.

And then in the second part, we talk about the sort of cultural radicalism taking over the Democratic Party. And we have a chapter on race, we have a chapter on immigration, a chapter on gender and gender ideology, and a chapter on climate, which I do think has become a cultural issue basically at this point. And then we tie it all together with a suggestion for the Democrats to get back to their roots of being the party of the common man and woman. And we talk approvingly of the way FDR’s New Deal liberalism approached cultural issues. They were not radical at all culturally. They were moderate-to-conservative, and they were patriotic: the Blue Eagle and all that kind of stuff. So basically we’re urging Democrats: You’ve got to go back to the future. Your ceiling is limited as the party of white college graduates and a still substantial segment of the minority population, particularly the more educated part. So, yeah, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

Geoff Kabaservice: Well, I look forward to reading it, and I wish you a lot of luck with the success of The Liberal Patriot. And thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you.

Ruy Teixeira: Geoff, it’s been a groove. I love talking to you and thanks for having me on.

Geoff Kabaservice: And thank you all for listening to the Vital Center Podcast. Please subscribe and rate us on your preferred podcasting platform. And if you have any questions, comments, or other responses, please include them along with your rating, or send us an email at Thanks as always to our technical director Kristie Eshelman, our sound engineer Ray Ingegneri, and the Niskanen Center in Washington, D.C.