THE STAKES by Robert Kuttner


2020 and the Survival of American Democracy
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An argument for why a progressive Democrat is crucial for saving the country.

American Prospect co-founder and co-editor Kuttner (Social Policy/Brandeis Univ.; Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?, 2018, etc.) offers a cogent, hard-hitting analysis of current threats to democracy, calling for the election of a progressive Democrat as president in 2020, someone “with a narrative, a manifesto, a rallying of the citizenry, and a set of policies at least as radical as those of Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Like many other recent political analysts—Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny), David Runciman (How Democracy Ends), and Nancy MacLean (Democracy in Chains), to name a few—Kuttner sees Trump as “a sociopathic tyrant” who must be removed from office, if not through impeachment, then surely in the next presidential election. But, he asserts, “American democracy has been fraying for decades” because of “the crowding out of civic participation by money and by media, and the concentration of wealth that in turn concentrates political power.” In the last 40 years, Americans have seen their economic prospects diminish and cynicism about politics increase. Kuttner disputes the idea that Democrats need to be more conciliatory (Barack Obama’s efforts to extend olive branches was futile, he insists) and to appeal to some imagined moderate constituency. “A large majority of Democrats are substantively progressive” on issues such as minimum wage, a large infrastructure program, free public universities, and universal health care. In the 2018 midterms, “many Democrats did win as progressives, and in unlikely places.” The fight for democracy, though, will not be won simply by reclaiming the White House. The author delineates important themes for a new president: restoring America’s role “as a beacon of liberty, common purpose, and broadly shared prosperity”; rebuilding domestic industry and infrastructure; regulating capitalism; expanding the Supreme Court to override the conservative lock; ensuring economic security for future generations; offering access to health care for all; and addressing income inequality. Policy strategies, he argues, must supplement “the most difficult and urgent challenge”: “to damp down the hatreds so cynically stoked by Donald Trump.”

An urgent message to a beleaguered party and distressed voters. 

Pub Date: Sept. 3rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-324-00365-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
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