Jacob S. Hacker | Plutocrats with Pitchforks || Radcliffe Institute

Jacob S. Hacker | Plutocrats with Pitchforks || Radcliffe Institute


[MUSIC PLAYING] [APPLAUSE] – Wow. As anybody who’s attended
these talks already knows, Meredith’s introductions are so
uplifting that it’s basically all downhill from the
time you open your mouth, and I want to just offer
a few thanks of my own. I want to thank
Meredith, of course, but also her predecessor, Judith
Vichniac, who was actually the director of
social studies when I was writing that senior thesis. And I also want to just
thank the amazing group here at the Radcliffe Institute,
including Rebecca, Sharon, Jess, Alex, my two amazing
research partners, Mina and Hamza. And I want to thank Perrin
Grayson and Dean Nagin for this amazing
fellowship semester. Now, this is a
bittersweet moment for me, because I’m finishing my
fellowship, essentially, with this talk. Though I get a
chance to spend time at the holiday party with
the Fellows afterward, and thankfully, I
will hear them sing. They will not have to hear me. But I’m really glad
that I was able to give this talk at this time
in the fellowship, because the talk is really the
culmination of the work I’ve been doing over this last
amazingly productive five to six months. And I want to keep my
thanks relatively short, even though they’ve gone on so
far pretty long, because I want to make sure that we
have time to discuss these important developments
that I’ll be talking about, ones that I think
touch all of us and about which we
are all concerned. The fact is, whenever
I’m in this situation, where I am only speaking for
what seems to me a limited period of time, I’m
reminded of an evaluation that I received when I was a
new assistant professor at Yale, and it began with great promise. It said, professor Hacker, if
I had just 15 minutes to live, I’d want to spend
it in your class, because that way it
would seem like an hour. So I really hope the next 15
minutes seems pretty close– or the next 45, in
this case, seems pretty close to the actual time. One more thing, my co-author
Paul Pierson was mentioned, and without him, none of what
I’ve done over the past decade or so would be possible, and I
just want to thank him deeply. He was actually a professor
at Harvard when we first met. I only learned later
that we had both grown up in the same college
town, Eugene, Oregon, though we’d never met then. So Paul and I have
written, as Meredith said, two books that
have really centered on the way in which inequality
has been shaped and constructed by government and the
ways in which government is central to our prosperity. Yet, that’s not, of
course, often recognized. We’re now working
on another book, I guess a third in our
trilogy, and we don’t actually know what exactly it’s about. And that’s why I’m so excited to
be able to talk with you today, because in fact, I want
not just to share with you what I’ve been thinking but
also get your feedback on it. And the place to
start, I think– and it’s the place that I think
you have all gone in your mind as you think about
right-wing populism– is the fact that over the last– oh, I don’t know– five years or so, we have
become obsessed with the idea that there’s been this huge
right-wing populist turn in the world. And in the United States,
an ethnonationalist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant,
racially-resentful white, mostly male populism
that’s roiling our politics and the politics
of many countries. And there’s certainly a huge
amount of truth to that, but as the title of
my talk suggests, there’s something
very strange about American, right-wing populism. And I think the way to
get at that, as Meredith was suggesting, is to step
back from the rhetoric and just think about what
our government has actually been doing over the
past couple of years. So well, what’s the biggest
thing it’s been doing? Of course, it’s the
big tax cuts that were passed at the
end of 2017, and these were, without question, the
biggest legislative achievement of the unified
Republican government that began with Donald Trump. And as you can see,
right, they had one very defining characteristic. Most of the gains went
to the very affluent. And by the way, there’s
a lot of research now that’s come out in the
wake of the tax cuts suggesting that not only
was a direct impact very skewed toward the top, but
most of the indirect effects have not been that
favorable towards middle and working class Americans. Things like stock buybacks or
moving money between countries have not really raised the
wages of most Americans, and this is a pretty
stark picture. When George W. Bush
passed his tax cuts, there was a lot of criticism
that 40% of the benefits went to the richest 1%. Well, the figure
for these tax cuts is 83% of the benefits
went to the top 1%. OK, so that’s the
big thing they did. What is the big
thing they didn’t do? Well strikingly, right, they
tried to, quote unquote, repeal and replace the
Affordable Care Act. Now, what’s really striking
about this, as you can see, is that despite promises on
the campaign trail by President Trump that everyone would get
better health care, in fact, the bill would have resulted
in a significant decline in the share of Americans
without coverage. Even more striking is
that a lot of those who would lose coverage would be
Donald Trump’s own supporters, people living outside
of urban areas who have become highly dependent
on Medicaid, especially in the wake of
the opioid crisis. So these are two big policy
moves, one of which succeeded, one of which barely
failed, thanks in part to the courageous vote
of the late John McCain. You might think, well, these
are things I don’t like, or many Americans
don’t like, but they’re popular among Republicans. Well, the truth is that
they’re not that popular. In fact, Chris Warshaw has done
a really great service to us by looking at all of
the recent legislation and has found that the
tax cuts and the health care bills are the two
most unpopular major pieces of legislation in the
last quarter century. And you can just see, the
numbers are really remarkable. They’re less popular than the
so-called TARP bailout of 2008. So they’re not popular. They’re skewed towards the top. This is the most obvious way
in which the policymaking in Washington has tilted. But keep in mind that these
tax cuts were not paid for. So there’s one more big
thing to look at– namely, the fact that we are the only
rich democracy, basically, that’s running large deficits. We’re running large
deficits even as our economy is fairly healthy. So that is going to
have a lot of effects. It’s already had some. One of them that I
think is quite relevant is when Republicans and
Democrats came together to pass a big opioid
bill, they actually could only agree because
of Republicans’ insistence that the bill would
be revenue-neutral. That is, there is no net
spending in this bill. And this is striking
for a number of reasons. One is that 72,000 people died
in 2017, up from about 20,000 in 1999. But it’s also striking
because, as a recent Journal of American Medical
Association piece pointed out, a lot of the problem is in
so-called Trump counties. And there’s a pretty
high correlation between opioid overdose
deaths and abuse and support for President Trump. So the policies are
tilted towards the top. They’re not very popular. They’re not doing much for– and indeed, in some cases
are actually detrimental to– many of those who support
Republican officeholders. And what do Republicans say? Well, here’s one. Mitch McConnell very
quickly came out after the budget deficit
figures became clear and suggested that perhaps
it was time to look at the so-called entitlements. Needless to say, there was not
a big rush among Republicans to talk about this issue. And that may be a quote that
you heard, but here are a couple that you may not
have seen from Mitch. And why would McConnell believe
that they were the winners who got to make policy? And why was 2017
such a good year? And I think it’s pretty obvious. It’s a good year because they
were able to pass the tax cuts. They massively
deregulated energy, pulling out of the Paris
Accord, for example. And they’ve gotten lots and
lots of conservative justices and judges on the bench. So this is not Donald
Trump’s agenda. It’s not actually the agenda
of right-wing populists anywhere else. There’s a superficial
similarity. Let’s look over at what’s
happening in Italy. The EU and the Italian coalition
government is tussling, and one partner
in that government is a right-wing populist party. It’s superficially similar. They want to run up deficits. EU says no, you can’t. So why do they want
to run up deficits? Well, read the list here. They’re doing what right-wing
populists in most countries do, which is they try
to deliver benefits to white Europeans or white
Canadians or white citizens. And that kind of
welfare chauvinism is sort of the themes
that Donald Trump ran on. They’re not the
themes that have been at the heart of policymaking
in recent years. So this is an
alliance, if you will, a coalition, an uneasy
moment, in which we have a kind of plutocratic populism. I sum it up with this– redistribution for the rich
and resentment for the rest. But the basic elements of it
are essentially a responsiveness of the organized
establishment Republican Party to the demands of corporations
and the very affluent, on the one hand, and
an increasing turn to ethnonationalists and other
appeals that have very little or nothing to do
with economic issues to maintain the Republican base. We’ve thought about different
ways to summarize this. I came up with
this, and I wanted it to be the name of our book. But Paul has disagreed. And there’s a reason I think he
disagreed, because this book is not going to be just about Trump
or even primarily about Trump. Trump is in many ways,
as I’ll try to show you, a product of a
transformation that’s taken place within the GOP
at least since the 1990s. And if we want to understand
why right-wing populism is distinctive in the US,
the easy place to begin– and I want to begin here
but then move beyond it– is with our distinctive
political institutions. Because of the fact that we
have a presidential system with these
single-member districts, Trump was able to pursue a
strategy that might be called the half of the half strategy. He was able to outflank his
Republican opponents by taking a more populist stance. They split the other vote. And then he was
able, through reasons I’ll explore in a moment,
to win the general election. But that meant, of
course, a very narrow base of support for Trump and
his politics himself. But there’s just not as much
scope for that kind of victory in a parliamentary system,
where parties basically get the proportion of the seats
as the proportion of the votes they get. However, once Trump’s in
office, he’s got a problem, or at least he has to deal
with another set of conditions. And that is that in our system,
there is a separate governing branch– namely Congress,
the House and the Senate. And Congress has
been the stronghold of the plutocratic agenda
of the Republican Party. And this, I think, is
really at the heart of many of the tensions
that have played out within the party. One way to think about
this is to think of it in terms of polarization,
that the two parties have been moving apart. But as I’ve argued in
some of my previous work, this polarization is
highly asymmetric. The Republican Party
has moved very far to the right over
the last generation, while the Democratic
Party has moved modestly to the left, mostly because
of the replacement of Southern Democrats with
Southern Republicans. And you can see this
with these scores. These are based on
roll call votes, and they’re basically designed
to divide members of Congress based on a right-left dimension. It turns out you can explain
90% to 95% of roll call votes with this simple
left-right dimension, which is the familiar bigger versus
smaller government or more redistribution versus less
redistribution or Democratic versus Republican. And this divide is growing. But it’s growing mostly because
more and more Republicans are at the extreme of
the ideological spectrum. There’s nothing built into
this model to produce that. It’s because while the
parties are moving apart, Republicans are much
more likely to be located in this edge of
the ideological spectrum. Now this is, in turn, I think
why many Republicans reconciled themselves relatively
quickly to Trump. In some ways, the
script had been laid out by Grover Norquist,
the head of Americans for Tax Reform, the
anti-tax organization so famous for the Taxpayer
Protection Pledge that essentially all
Republican officeholders are pressed to sign. He said basically–
and this is in 2012– it really doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve got Paul Ryan
in the House and the president has a working hand–
and apparently, Trump’s hands may be small, but
the fingers appear to work– we’ll be able to
get what we want. And Ryan recognized this. People don’t know
this, but Paul Ryan had two speeches prepared
for election night. One was going to
repudiate Donald Trump and call to the higher
traditions of the Republican Party embodied in the life
of his mentor Jack Kemp. He threw that speech
out the window. And he gave another
speech, a speech that basically
said he would work with Trump in a so-called
coalition government. Ryan’s aides actually
called this Paul’s deal with the devil,
which is suggestive of rather a bit of skepticism
about the intentions of Donald Trump. So this is the proximate
story of what happened. Trump and Ryan,
McConnell and Trump, form this uneasy
alliance to govern. However, I think we have
to push the question back. It goes even deeper. It’s really what’s happened
to the Republican Party. My co-author, Paul, saw a
bumper sticker in Berkeley that summed up the
question we’re asking. I could put it a little
bit more eloquently. There really are
three questions. The first question
is, basically, why is this populism
so plutocratic? The second, and I
think more difficult, question is why have the
plutocrats not only not had to compromise with the
populists on economic policy, but so far– and I recognize
there are some areas of tension– they’ve basically been
able to get what they want and sometimes more than they
could have ever hoped for? And the third question is– and the obvious
question– is, is this a stable outcome, equilibrium? Is this going to continue? Are we passing by a
certain Republican Party, or is this party bedding down? And I think the way to think
about this is basically to think about to what extent
can the party, with minority support, actually embed a
lot of the policies it wants? So in a way, I want
to end our discussion by thinking about what I would
call the countermajoritarian character of this coalition, the
extent to which it increasingly recognizes it’s in a race
against time in terms of its popular
majorities and wants to either maximize the
influence of its voters, minimize the influence
of its opponents’ voters, change the rules of
the game, or lock in policies for the long
term, or institutions for the long term. That’s a lot to cover,
but I promise that I will move quickly through it. When Paul and I were
doing this research, we came to this not through
contemporary American politics, but by reading a profound
book by a Harvard scholar about the history of
conservative parties. If you haven’t read Daniel
Ziblatt’s award-winning book, you must. And basically Ziblatt is
discussing a basic struggle that conservative parties face. For conservative parties, he
says, they’ve got this problem. They’re tied to economic elites. But in the early 20th century,
the franchise is expanding. So all these non-elites–
white men, of course, but non-elites– are
moving into the electorate. So how do they manage that? How do they maintain
electoral support while holding on
to their commitment to protecting the privileges
of those at the top? And remember, these are
extremely unequal societies, societies at a
level of inequality we had not seen, at
least until recently, in advanced industrial
democracies. And his answer is,
basically, they’ve got to figure out
another issue to run on. Protecting the rich is not a
winning electoral strategy. They’ve got to find
something else. And he shows how some parties,
like the British Tories, figure out something else
that is at least conducive to British democracy– in
that case, nationalism, colonialism– and other parties, like
the German conservatives, find an alternative cleavage. But it turns out not to be
very conducive to democracy. So what we realized is that
what’s happening in the United States today is a lot
like what happened in the early 20th century,
in that inequality has been so dramatically increasing
in the United States, so that the top 1% has seen
its share of income doubled, and the bottom half, its
share of income fall. This is very similar,
then, to the transformation that was taking place because of
the expansion of the suffrage. And the result of this
is that conservatives, the conservative party,
the Republican Party, is once again torn. And as I’ll argue, I think
it makes a fateful choice to embrace plutocracy
in the 1990s. And it’s important to note that
conservative parties do not have to stick with the rich. They can moderate their stances. But to do so, of course, is to
go against some very powerful forces within the party. So why is American right-wing
populism distinctive? Well, another reason might
be that American inequality is distinctive. If you look at Western
Europe, the story is actually quite different. There has yet to be this
stark rise in inequality. And if you look
at US inequality, it’s really the rise
of the very, very top that drives the trend. So the Republican Party,
as a conservative party, is faced with this trade-off. And I think the way that
most political scientists would think about
this is it’s basically a question about
electoral strategy, about vote maximizing. And if you’re thinking
about vote maximizing, the way to think about this,
I think, is pretty simple. And this is actually based
on the 2016 election. So first, we have an
economic dimension. And here we have what Drutman
nicely calls a social identity dimension, which
I would probably call the ethnonationalist
racist dimension. But in any case, we have
these two dimensions. And Democrats are
the most consistently in the economically progressive
and progressive with regard to social issues. And Republicans are
most consistently in the top quadrant,
which is the opposite. So that’s one dimension. You’re thinking about
this as basically the economic dimension as
being the crucial divider. And there is something
you might notice. There are a lot more Democrats. There are a lot more Democrats. In fact– I’ll give you
the exact numbers here– that liberal, progressive group
there is 45% of the electorate, and the top right
is about half that. So it’s 22.7%. So that’s a problem. Now, you might think,
well, what the Republicans could do is get all those
libertarians onboard. They’re economically
conservative, but they’re socially liberal. And guess what? There aren’t any of them. There are not very many. I think there’s 10%, according
to Drutman’s calculations. No, 3.8%. So that’s not a
winning strategy. Bloomberg, are you listening? So there’s this last group. And this is the
crucial swing group. So these are folks
that Trump brought in because he was able
to adopt relatively progressive positions
for the Republican Party on economic issues. But of course, he was very
hard-core conservative on the identity, social
issues dimension. So that is the standard
way of thinking about it. And it raises this
fundamental question– well, why didn’t
they do that before? Why did Trump have to
innovate in this way? And again, most of the
people who voted for Trump had voted for Romney. Most of those who’d voted
for Clinton voted for Obama. But those Obama voters
who voted for Trump, they’re up in that group. So why didn’t people
think of this? Or why didn’t Republicans
think of this before? And the answer is that
this is a strategy that’s pretty much at odds
with an important part of the Republican coalition. As I said, the
party has committed itself very much to defending
the interests of those at the top. And so the important thing
I want to emphasize here, following the recent
work on parties by people like David
Carroll and John Zaller, is to emphasize that the
parties here are not just collections of voters,
but they’re also as coalitions of groups. And what those groups
want is policy. In many cases, what
they want is policy. And so the trade-off
for a party is to figure out how to
maximize votes while pleasing your organized supporters. Now, I mention this because,
for the Republican Party, this quadrant is fine,
to some extent, if it’s about divisive social issues. It’s not so fine if it’s about
progressive economic policies. That’s not agreeable to the
intense organized interests within the Republican Party. And so the party
basically has to adopt a strategy of stoking outrage
without necessarily responding to the interests of those
whose outrage it’s stoking. This is what Paul and I call
opening the Pandora’s box, if you will, that
Ziblatt identifies and that conservative
parties can open. And Ziblatt talks about three
things that are in this box. If a party goes down the road of
stoking outrage, for one thing, it’s, of course,
creating social division. But it’s also, in many cases,
as Ziblatt argues, reliant on outside groups
to basically do the dirty work of campaigning. It both needs their
money to protect– and that often
comes from what we call here first-dimension
extremists, the Koch brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, the
establishment groups that have a lot of resources. But it also has to come– especially electioneering
has to come from these second-dimension
extremists. These are the extremists
on that identity dimension that I discussed. These are groups like
the National Rifle Association, the Christian
conservative movement, and– though it doesn’t
fit perfectly– the right-wing media, all of
which I’ll talk about briefly. So I want to take
these in reverse order, starting basically with– oh, wait, there’s one more. Sorry. So the last thing that
these parties do– because even this
may not be enough– is they tend to try to maximize
the influence of their voters. They can do this
through subtle means. But increasingly, they
get attracted, according to Ziblatt, to various forms
of vote-rigging or worse, as we were already
starting to discuss. So I’ll come back to that. So let’s start with
the vote-rigging side. This is the side
with which I think you’re probably most familiar. I’m from Portland, Oregon. I grew up in Eugene, as I said. But I went to high
school in Portland. My parents were able to watch– this is the path of the eclipse. I don’t know. How many saw the eclipse? I didn’t. I didn’t because I was
hiking in New Hampshire when it was going through from my
parents’ house down to where my brother-in-law lives
in Nashville, Tennessee. You already can see where
I’m going with this. This is the path of the
eclipse, and it’s mostly red. Why is it mostly red? Because most of the counties
over which the total eclipse passed are Republican counties. Now, what does this mean,
besides that the Republican Party may be the
party of darkness? [LAUGHTER] OK, that was unfair. But what does it mean? It means if you draw any
line from coast to coast, it’s going to look like that. In fact, here’s a better picture
to give you a sense of this. Urban America is
increasingly Democratic. Rural and exurban America
is increasing Republican. Come up with a line– I think you’d probably want to
run it from New York to LA– but you’re going to go through
a lot of Republican country. Now, you can see there’s a lot
more votes in the urban areas. But now we come to the
vote-rigging problem. Well, there’s first the
fact that our Senate is not based on population, of course. It’s based on territory. So this is not something
that Republicans engineered. But it is something
that they benefit from. Here are the top five
states that, in terms of the ratio of
voters to senators, they have the most
favorable ranking. And here you have
California, just to give you a sense of how skewed that is. And it does turn out that
if you come from a state without a lot of people,
each of those people get a lot more money from
the federal government. But the point here is not so
much about the distribution of federal funds. It’s about the fact that this
means Republicans basically have a built-in
edge in the Senate. It’s not historically been
a very big partisan shift, but it increasingly
has been one. And we saw this with the
Kavanaugh nomination. This was a president who had a
minority of the popular vote, who nominated a justice
who got a Senate vote where the senators representing a
minority of the population put the justice into office. It turns out that’s not
actually that exceptional. These are all the votes
in recent years in which– this is the average
difference, basically, between the percent
of senators voting yes and the percent
of the population those senators represent. And you can see,
we’re approaching about negative-6 points. So basically, there
are more and more population minority
victories in the Senate. Now, the Senate is
part of the story. The other part of it,
of course, is the House. And Moon Duchin, who
unfortunately couldn’t be here today, has done
us a great service by trying to fix this problem. Now, here is
Pennsylvania, where she was enlisted to help
draw better maps. And Moon is, of course, one of
my fellow Radcliffe Fellows. And she did a great job. Look at this. They went from
54% of House votes for Republicans
to 13 of 18 seats. And they got 45% of votes,
Republic– and they got– what? 9 of 18 seats. So it’s actually not so great. And the reason
it’s not so great, as you’ve probably
have figured out, is these blue regions are so
overwhelmingly Democratic, based on that figure
I showed you earlier, that it’s so easy to draw
districts that basically waste Democratic votes, where
everything above 50% is just being thrown away. And so even when you
draw maps in a way that is as fair as possible,
as Moon has done, it’s going to have a bit of a
bias in favor of Republicans. But of course, Republicans,
as we’ll see in a moment, have done a really good job
of exploiting that bias. And in fact, in
the 2016 election, we saw the largest
gap, basically, between the median Senate
and House district, its partisanship,
and the partisanship of the nation as a whole. So the way to think about
this is that the median Senate and House seat was about
6 points more Republican than the nation as
a whole in 2016. And by the way,
that’s come down. But it’s not at zero. This carries over, of course,
to the electoral college. Why did Trump win,
besides the fact that there were all those
illegal votes in California? Well, he won because he
was able to put together an electoral college
map that gave him the majority of electors. Why is that possible? Because the electoral
college gives you the number of senators plus
the number of representatives. And so for a state
like Wyoming that has one representative
plus two senators, it still gets three
electoral college votes. By the way, Wyoming
has the same number of senators as it
has escalators. I’m not making that up, although
there was a dispute about this, because apparently there
are two escalators that go– there are two escalators, pairs. Is an escalator just
the part going up and the part going down,
or is it the part going up and the part going down? I would argue the latter. But needless to say, this
has not been resolved. So that’s the vote side. We know that story. Let me tell you another
story that we know less well. And that’s basically the
story about the organized intense policy demanders
within the Republican Party. So money is much more
important than it ever has been in American politics,
and more of that money comes from the top. Indeed, in 1980, about 10%
of campaign contributions came from the top
0.01% of donors. In 2016, that number was 40%. And you might say,
well, there are rich people on both sides
of the aisle, and it’s true. But the research is
pretty clear on this. It’s not shocking news. Rich people tend to be
a bit more conservative. This was a study
done by Benjamin Page and his colleagues in
the area around Chicago, where they actually surveyed
a set of rich people. They were able to follow up
with them, get like a 30% to 40% response rate. The average income in this
group was over $1 million. Average wealth was
around $14 million. And lo and behold,
they’re more likely to be Republican and conservative. If you go even
higher up the ladder, as Ben Page has done with
his co-authors in a book that’s just coming out,
most of the big dollars– this is the 100 richest
people on the Forbes 400 list. By the way, Donald
Trump is number 134, so he doesn’t get in this group. I’m sure he’s calling up right
now to try to change that. In any case, his point
is basically yes, there are Democratic
liberals on this list. But they are much less
likely to be active, although they are much more
likely to speak out publicly, shaping our view of
who these people are. And it’s worth noting
that there’s not just more money on the
Republican side. It’s a lot more focused. I think the biggest
example of this is lobbying, because
lobbying is really about getting very specific
things from government. And lo and behold,
many of those things involve not regulating
corporations so that they don’t spew
out pollution or impose systemic financial
risk on us, or getting goodies for corporations. And so the lobbying that
takes place often has, I think, a very
conservative cast, because if corporations care
intensely about a few things, they may be very concerned
about other things. They may be
concerned about, say, the deterioration in
infrastructure or the ways in which our civic
discourse is degrading. But if you’re Tim Cook at Apple,
what you’re really concerned about is whether you can get
those billions of dollars back to be able to
give the stock buybacks to your large shareholders. And the one thing to
say about lobbying is that it isn’t independent
of contributions. Mick Mulvaney gave
us a picture of that. He was once in Congress,
and he actually said this at a congressional hearing. This falls into the
standard definition of a political gaffe, when a
politician tells the truth. So this is a big,
important thing that people don’t know
about, is that lobbyists run a lot of fundraisers for
politicians, which further intensifies the
ability of lobbyists to get what they want. Last point on money. It’s not just that it’s
larger and more focused. It’s also much better organized. And so this brings
us to this man. Does anybody know who this is? That’s what I find
really fascinating, because I wouldn’t have
known who it was until I had written American Amnesia. This is Tom Donohue. He’s the head of the
Chamber of Commerce. He’s probably, until
recently at least, was the most powerful
man in Washington. He has a plaque on his desk that
sums up his philosophy of life. And Donohue basically has
yoked the Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Party. In 2016, they shoveled
100% of their money to Republican candidates. In the most recent election,
they shifted dramatically and gave 3% or so of their
money to Democratic candidates. So this is an institution
or organization that has become this
fearsome Washington predator, and it’s very closely
tied to the GOP. There is another institution
that is on the right. It’s the Koch network. And I know this
sounds conspiratorial, but you just can’t
ignore this organization. It spent more in 2016 than
the Republican Party itself. It has a whole
series of chapters, Americans for Prosperity,
across the country. And while it is certainly
not that into parts of Donald Trump’s agenda,
it is really, really strongly behind the
Republican Party. One thing to note
is that there is money– the money
on the other side is just not as well organized. So I have one
illustration of that. This is from the work of
Theda Skocpol like this slide, and it just came out
in a recent paper. I think it’s fascinating. So the Democracy Alliance
is this progressive group that organizes funding
for candidates. And here’s just to give you
a sense of the Democracy Alliance’s relative capacity
to raise money compared with the Koch seminars. There just is no contest. Let me move on from the topic
of first-dimension extremist groups on the economic dimension
to talk just a little bit about what I have called
second-dimension extremist groups. So I said that we
really do have to take the right-wing media seriously. And the reason is because,
just like the partisan divide, the media divide
is not symmetric. Conservative sources
are in their own world. There is a great deal of
overlap in the center. And this plays out
in a lot of ways. Probably the most
obvious way is you can see conspiracy
stories emerge on both the left and the right. But on the left they get quashed
almost immediately because they run through the center of
mainstream media sources that basically say
this isn’t true. That doesn’t happen on the
other side of the spectrum. So what does a
right-wing media do? What does Trump’s
number one adviser do to shape the way in which
the conservative world operates? I think there’s
basically two things. One is that they de-legitimated
all other sources of information. It is only the conservative
media, particularly Fox News, that you can trust. The lame-stream
media is fake news. The other thing is
they were pioneers, starting with talk radio, in
using racialized themes that had been seen as
basically beyond the pale in national politics
in the wake of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. Now, I don’t want to say
that Fox News is fully with the white
nationalist sites. But you cannot look at
Breitbart, which outfoxed– no pun intended– Fox News in
2016, pulling Fox closer to it, you cannot look at Breitbart
without recognizing that this is a totally new kind of media
environment on the right. And this environment, I think,
has a number of effects. But I think the most important
effect is to insulate– to not only intensify
the outrage stoking, but to insulate those
whose outrage is stoked from contrary messages. And so the kind of
geographic insulation we’ve already talked
about comes together with the kind of
media insulation to create what some have called
epistemic closure, a kind of world where you don’t have
to deal with inconvenient facts that are offered by others. There is another right-wing
group that I will only mention, but I think it’s
really important. And it’s the National
Rifle Association. This is a series of covers
that Nick Kristof unearthed. And they really show
the transformation– some might say descent– of the NRA from basically
a sportsman club into a fierce conservative,
and often highly racially conservative, publication. The NRA has an
enormous influence on a core group of voters who
fit within this populist group. And again, they have a lot
of resources on the ground. Now, I want to say one
thing before I sum up. One is that this is
not an unalloyed good for the Republican Party. There’s a kind of Frankenstein
monster problem to it. You have to keep working these
voters into ever higher fits of outrage. But at the same time, you’re
losing control, in many ways, of the agenda. Notably, even Fox News
refused to run the ad that Donald Trump
wanted to put out in the close of the campaign. But never mind, a huge amount
of the Republican Party has become
increasingly Trumpian. So what defines a
never-Trumper today? It’s that he or she–
but usually he– is either not in office or
will soon be out of office. If you’re not a never-Trumper,
you’re running ads like– [INTERPOSING VOICES] – 14,000 illegal immigrants
is marching on America. From Phil Bredesen– – A few thousand very poor
people who are not a threat– – –to gang members,
known criminals, people from the Middle East,
possibly even terrorists. To Phil Bredesen– – Not a threat to our– it’s not a threat
to our security. – Phil Bredesen, dangerously
wrong for Tennessee. Marsha Blackburn is
[INAUDIBLE] to build the wall to stop [INAUDIBLE]. – I’m Marsha Blackburn,
and I approve this message. – We all really wanted to
relive that election, didn’t we? So it didn’t work. And we had an early
sign that it wouldn’t work from Paul Ryan, who stepped
out of the fray in the runup to the 2016 election. But I think that we can see in
the rise and fall, in my view, of Paul Ryan a story
about what’s happened to the Republican Party. I’m reminded, actually, of a
story that is much, much older. It’s the story of the
unification of France. So King Henry IV
essentially unifies France under Catholicism. And he famously said– though
he probably didn’t say– that Paris is worth a Mass. It’s worth it. If I get Paris, I’ll go to Mass. And I feel like the epitaph
for Paul Ryan’s career– and let’s hope it
is the epitaph– is that tax cuts are
worth a Charlottesville. Ouch. But it didn’t work. And I will say that this
was quite an election. Keeping on our Christian
theme, a lot of elections are like Christmas. You wake up the next day,
and there are a bunch of presents under the tree. This wasn’t like that. I’m going to say– I’m coining this– it was
the Hanukkah election. The gifts just kept on coming. And the Republican
Party lost on the order of 40 seats, which is the
largest Democratic gain since the Watergate elections. And they did, I think,
because of the fact that while the Republicans
intensified their base, essentially their
unpopular agenda caught up with them in many other
parts of the electorate. That said, the blue wave came up
against the Republican red wall and in many places crested it,
but the wall held in others. Look at North
Carolina, for example. It actually was an even
more effective gerrymander, given the numbers in 2018 than
it had been in previous years. Well, fortunately
the party is going through a searing
soul-searching process. Just remember, 2012
with the autopsy, we need to actually
diversify the party, reach out to young
people and Hispanics. And we have all read, of
course, the 2018 autopsy. Yes. It was good. Yeah. So there hasn’t been
any soul-searching. Why? Because the party is
caught, if you will, between a Trumpian rock and
a plutocratic hard place. And so to me, that’s the
kind of scary culmination of these trends,
because it leads us to places like
Wisconsin and Michigan. So if you’re not able to win– if you lose the game, change
the rules of the game. And we all know what’s
happening there, but maybe you haven’t
seen this quote, which I find quite remarkable. If there weren’t these
votes from the cities, then we would’ve won. And I hadn’t realized
this, but David Leonard had a great column the
other day pointing out that there’s a lot of
business backers of Wisconsin Republicans who have
not tried to temper their enthusiasm for minimizing
the power of the governor and locking in place
a lot of policies, including voter
ID policies, that make it hard for especially
Democratic voters to vote. Walgreens is probably
the chief of them, according to Leonard,
because of some strange tax provision that Republicans have
vowed to preserve in Wisconsin. When I think of
this, I guess I have to say I go back to
the great theorists. I go back to people like
Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes. The Republicans– there’s a name
for the game they’re playing. It’s Calvinball. They’re playing Calvinball. After they discovered that
they can’t win this way, they want to play
it a different way. Now, this is minor
in some cases. It’s very major in others. And the one major
area that I think we should keep in mind,
because it has such a long lag and such enduring effects,
is in the judiciary. And I think that the
thing to remember is that the judiciary is now
the locus of policymaking in many cases. Why? Because the other branches
are not working very well. And the judiciary is,
meanwhile, also adopting a much more aggressive stance
with regard to executive branch regulation of the domestic
economy, something that I think has gotten a
lot less attention than it deserves. There is a chamber agenda
as well as a Christian right agenda. And indeed, if you
look at the justices who go onto the Supreme Court– by the way, four of
them got onto the court with senators representing a
minority of the popular vote, two with a president with a
minority of the popular vote and senators representing a
minority of the popular vote. If you look at
that, you’re going to see that in a lot of ways,
the plutocratic agenda is getting baked into
our judicial system. That’s a dark place to end. And so I want to try to offer
something a bit more uplifting. The first is that I am really
excited that political reform has become a major
issue in its own right. So many people said, oh,
no one cares about it. But as you probably know,
there were scores of ballot initiatives– some 30 by my
count, most of which passed– that were trying to
broaden voting rights, that were trying to bring ethics into
government, that were trying to put campaign finance reform
on the table, that were trying to reform redistricting. I think this is a
very encouraging sign. And it’s worth noting that the
first bill that the House will introduce, HR1, is a
political reform bill. The second thing that
I want to mention is that I think there is a
real scope for addressing the real challenges that many
white working-class voters are facing. And to me, that’s
an essential part of dealing with the
transformation of our politics. To be sure, we have to have a
multiracial, tolerant, diverse society. But we also have
to have one where people from all walks
of life feel that they can achieve the American dream. I have been talking about
this for a long time without a whole lot of success. But I think there’s an
approach that has real promise, and I’ve termed it
predistribution. And the idea is basically–
and this comes out of my work with Paul– that most
of the ways in which government shapes income inequality is
not through taxes and benefits, but it’s through shaping
the way markets work. It’s through supporting unions. It’s through minimum wages,
through financial regulation. It’s through shaping
corporate governance. And I think we’re waking
up to that reality. And I think it’s actually a
real chance to unite people across the political spectrum. I mean here, voters across
the political spectrum. Now, it is actually
sometimes a divisive issue, as was true in Britain,
when the short-lived Labor aspirant for the prime
minister’s office, Ed Miliband, endorsed the idea
of predistribution. We have only a few minutes left. But I just cannot help but
show you what happened. – Now normally, Mr. Speaker, at
this stage in the proceedings, I say that the party opposite
hasn’t got any plans. But on this occasion, I
can reassure the House they have got some plans. They’ve got a new plan. It’s called predistribution. I think what that means is that
you spend the money before you actually get it. And I think you’ll
find that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in right now. [CHEERS] – Dear Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker. – That’s Ed Miliband. – I’ll tell him what it’s about. It’s an economy. It’s an economy that doesn’t
just work for a few at the top but works for everyone else. And it’s not about
a prime minister who cuts taxes for millionaires
while raising taxes for everyone else. And perhaps when he
gets up to reply, he can answer the question
which he so far hasn’t answered. Is he going to be a
beneficiary of the 50p tax cut? – This is an economy
that’s generated a million new
private sector jobs. Now, I know he doesn’t want to– I know he doesn’t want to
talk about predistribution. But I’ve done a little
work, Mr. Speaker. I can tell him
about his new guru. His new guru is called– I’m not making this up. The man who invented
predistribution, he’s called, he’s called– I’m not making this up. They don’t want to hear. – Order. The House– order. Members on both sides
need to calm down. Let’s hear the prime
minister’s answer. – I’m surprised they don’t want
to hear from their new guru. He’s called Mr. J. Hacker. And Mr. J. Hacker’s
recommendation is that we spend an
extra $200 billion and borrow an extra $200
billion in this Parliament. That is his recommendation. But in the work I’ve done,
I’ve discovered his new book. It is published by
Princeton University Press, and it’s called The
Road to Nowhere. He doesn’t need to read it. He’s there already. [CHEERS] [APPLAUSE] – So why is that so funny? It’s not because they
know who Jacob Hacker is. It’s because James Hacker is
the hapless member of Parliament in Yes, Prime Minister, the
long-running British show. And the other thing
I would say is that, as Meredith pointed
out, this was my first book. And I really wish that
David Cameron had mentioned something more recent. But let me just say in
closing that I think that we have to understand
that the root of this problem is the kind of
extreme inequality that we have in
the United States. And unless we address
that problem, whatever happens to Trump,
we’re sadly going to be back struggling with these
questions in the near future. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Oh, and help me with
that book title, OK?

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