John Judis is an editor-at-large at Talking Points Memo, a former senior editor at The New Republic, and an old friend. Ruy Teixeira is a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a contributing columnist at the WaPo, and politics editor of the fantastic substack The Liberal Patriot. In 2002 they wrote The Emerging Democratic Majority, and their new book is Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes.
You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app). For two clips of our convo — on the ways the Democrats are losing on immigration, and discussing the core failings of Obama — pop over to our YouTube page.
Other topics: John’s wealthy upbringing in Chicago until parents fell on hard times and faced anti-Semitism; Ruy raised by a single mom in DC and whose dad worked at the Portuguese embassy; John and Ruy becoming friends in the early ‘70s as socialist radicals; John writing a biography of Bill Buckley in the ‘80s that garnered him respect among conservatives; Ruy working in progressive think tanks before ending up at the center-right AEI; the Reagan Era shifting to the New Democrats and a triangulating Clinton; John and Ruy writing the famous Emerging Democratic Majority that did not, in fact, write off the white working class; Brownstein’s “coalition of the ascendent” seeming to gel with Obama’s election; how Obamacare didn’t help the working class enough; the 2008 crash and recession; how Obama was “the last New Democrat” and failed to strengthen labor laws; how he enforced the border; how Hillary deployed identity politics to her peril in 2016; Trump capitalizing on trade and immigration; how even John endorsed the feeling behind “Make America Great Again”; the rise of BLM; Wendy Davis’ campaign as a harbinger for Latino support on border enforcement; Trump’s growing support among non-white voters; how the GOP became the party of the working class; how Biden hasn’t changed Dems into the normie party; his industrial policy, IRA and CHIPS; being mum on boosting energy production; his main weaknesses of age and inflation; the dearth of patriotism on the left; how blacks are a moderating force within the Dems; Asians drifting toward the GOP on education and crime; the war in Israel and Gaza; how Ukraine could be a big issue next election; the GOP weakness on abortion; Trump’s “vermin” and enemies list; and who could replace Biden among the Dems or independents like RFK Jr.
Browse the Dishcast archive for another convo you might enjoy (the first 102 episodes are free in their entirety — subscribe to get everything else). Coming up: Matthew Crawford on anti-humanism and social control, David Leonhardt on his new book about the American Dream, Cat Bohannon on Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution, Jennifer Burns on her new biography of Milton Friedman, McKay Coppins on Romney and the GOP, and Alexandra Hudson on civility. Please send any guest recs, dissent and other comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our episode last week with Graeme Wood on the godawful situation in Israel and Gaza spurred the most email of any episode yet. A listener writes:
I enjoyed your conversation with Graeme Wood. Having listened to Sam Harris and Glenn Loury and John McWhorter and Bill Maher and Michael Shermer and Coleman Hughes and more — all very thoughtful people I like a lot and who pride themselves on their heterodoxy, but damn, it was all sounding so orthodox on Israel. Of course I have a lot of sympathy for Israel for what happened on October 7th. But you would think from listening to these intellectuals that that was the beginning and end of it; that it’s oh-so-simple.
Another fan of the episode:
I wanted to thank you for your writings on Israel the past few weeks, and in particular for the interview with Graeme Wood. It was like suddenly breathing pure oxygen, to hear people honestly talking with each other in the way you two did. I teach logic, and I tell my students that a real argument is a joint attempt to get at the truth (as opposed to a debate, where we simply seek to score points and win). In a real argument, truth is the winner — and we should then be grateful to be really shown we are wrong when we are.
But you also expressed my feelings so well — the utter anguish I feel as someone who supports Israel and longs to see it flourish — and as someone utterly horrified by the Hamas pogrom, and who genuinely believes they should be utterly destroyed. And I’m likewise horrified by the settler movement and the current Israeli government. It makes me scream inside.
When I read the accounts of what happened on 10/7, and then the next day — before the counterattacks by Israel, before any bombing — the celebration of what had happened by people who you would have never thought could descend to such depravity, I was shocked. Thank you for your writing that so neatly exposed their hypocrisy and selective attention to only certain atrocities — and laying bare the worldview that underlies it. And then I felt sorry for your podcast guest, who was trying SO HARD to be optimistic, as you poured bucket after bucket of cold water on him in your honest and horrified responses.
I listened to the interview a couple of times, but I was particularly interested in the last section where Graeme was opining that some of this Hamas excusing was denialism on the part of the innocent naifs, including the so called intelligentsia. You challenged him, and then said you found them cold. Yes, yes, yes. They are nihilists straight from Russian literature of the Raskolnikov type.
“I’ve only killed a louse, Sonia, a useless, loathsome, harmful creature.”
Substitute Jew for louse and there you have it. I am rarely surprised by evil, but this outbreak of antisemitism has jolted me. I did not think it could happen here. These college kids are empty vessels, who have filled their vessels with such hate. Do their parents feel the same way? I guess it’s just a fallen world; nothing new under the sun.
This listener dissents:
Big longtime fan and subscriber — love your work. But I have to say, I was extremely disappointed in your podcast with Graeme Wood.
When he started to talk about what he recently observed about the physical reality of West Bank settlements, and the idea that there could be a dismantling of settlements, he gave a quick description of the densely concentrated Jerusalem settlements, and then he started to describe the more remote settlements … but then you jumped in and gave a speech and the podcast never returned to the subject.
Based on my half-decent knowledge of the settlements and familiarity with Graeme’s work, perhaps you would have found him offering that 1) the Jerusalem suburb settlements comprise a really massive majority of total settler population but in a very tiny slice of land — one that could not be dismantled but could easily become part of Israel in a land swap, a la Camp David or Ohmert proposal 2008, and 2) the vast majority of other settler locations are not hardened physical large communities, and comprise, individually and collectively, small populations that — if Israel decided to do it — could be relatively easily evacuated, just as happened with the 50,000 settlers in Gaza in 2005.
Another dissent on the settlements and the pols abetting them:
I have enjoyed your writing for many years and am a regular listener to the podcast, and your new one with Graeme was excellent. But your emotional rant about Israel not being influenced by the US over the past 25 years, although possibly accurate, was over the top.