A prominent Democratic strategist and pollster lays out a reform agenda for the future.
Pity the Republican Party. Condemned in the 21st century to fighting a rear-guard action against a series of demographic, economic, and social trends that include more racial diversity, stepped-up immigration, differing family structures, new energy sources, and increasing secularism, the GOP continues to battle. Adviser to a variety of center-left politicians, home and abroad, from Bill Clinton to Nelson Mandela, Greenberg (Dispatches from the War Room: In the Trenches with Five Extraordinary Leaders, 2009, etc.) relies on his own research—surveys and focus groups—commentary from economists, political scientists, sociologists, and reporters, and numerous graphs and charts to make this case and to argue for a progressive response to the changes wrought by the technological era. He compares the current moment to the similarly disruptive Industrial Revolution, during which a succession of Democratic presidents initiated a raft of social reforms that sanded off the rough edges of the economy and culture and allowed the nation to become pre-eminent. In smooth, almost chatty prose, Greenberg argues the time is ripe for a bold progressive agenda that addresses the societal perturbations of our own time, that history “is on the side of the ascendant revolutions” that will inevitably overwhelm opponents. Unsurprisingly, the author calls for increased government activism speaking to issues like climate change, wage disparity, the renewal of our cities, our education system, and infrastructure, and a commitment to full employment. To the already converted and those who shudder at the mention of the Koch brothers and laugh at the scrum of Republicans aspiring to the White House, the author’s analysis will appear spot-on. Greenberg’s confident, well-researched, and well-written delivery may even persuade some skeptics. At least half the country though, the soon-to-be-extinct half, according to the author, will remain unconvinced.
As we head into the presidential primary season, Greenberg’s book couldn’t be timelier, more disturbing for the Republicans, or more challenging for those looking to lead the Democrats.