Ezra Klein

All Photos Twitter.com
As Twitter debates popularism, centrist Democrats seek to slash the most popular parts of the Build Back Better Agenda, and those that would do the most to put money in people’s pockets. I talked with @ThePlumLineGS. washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
This is every single New York Times front page since 1852. Observe the explosion of pictures in news
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
This is true. The level of consensus Democrats are exhibiting right now is, by any historical measure, wildly impressive. But with only 50 seats in the Senate, it's not enough. twitter.com/MattGrossmann/…
Measured productivity growth up a lot in the US in the wake of COVID, is flat or down in other major advanced economies. I would like to understand this better, my hunch is more about short-run macro dynamics around output/employment than a durable technological shift. A 🧵.q
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Damn this is good. If you're not subscribed to @adam_tooze's newsletter, you're missing out. adamtooze.substack.com/p/chartbook-45…
Fun fact: the US decided to build "the world's first full-scale atomic electric power plant devoted exclusively to peacetime uses" in 1953 and it went live in 1957. That is, it took less time to invent nuclear power stations in the 50s than it takes to replicate them today. twitter.com/AlecStapp/stat…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Democratic candidate's percentage of the two-party presidential vote: 2008: 53.7% 2012: 52.0% 2016: 51.1% 2020: 52.2% Remarkable top-line stability here despite all the drama and movement under the hood. If not for the Electoral College, GOP would look really stuck
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Agenda control is central. You need to choose, in a campaign or a leg fight, what your controversial policy will be, and which kinds of unpopular debates you’re willing to risk to keep the broader debate on more popular terrain.
The reconciliation bill has suffered for not having a flagship, viral policy like that. Instead the point of disagreement is the $3.5 trillion price tag, which is just terrible ground for Democrats to be fighting on.
And this isn’t just about elections. You see it in legislative fights too. The stimulus checks defined the fight over the American Rescue Plan in part because they were controversial. They even had Democratic critics, like Larry Summers, which kept them in the news.
Viralists see that as a strategy Dems need to try and repeat. It's definitely right that negative partisanship unleash huge energy in modern politics. We just saw its power in the CA recall. But can Dems do it in the midterm, without Trump on the ballot? I'm skeptical.
I don’t think Democrats have thought about this question that clearly for the past few years because Trump himself was the controversial subject that drove their mobilization and dominated the issue agenda.
Which is to say: One version of popularism holds that the important thing in politics is deciding which popular things you say. I think a more compelling version asks which unpopular/controversial things you say in order to define the debate and control the controversy.
This is also relevant to Trump: He said lots of very unpopular things on immigration, but the benefit of that, to him, is it kept the media focused on immigration, which was a better cut for him than economics.
If Sanders had created a narrowly popularist Medicare plan — like, say, the Buttigieg plan — it wouldn't have given him the agenda control it did. (Whether that would've been better or worse for him is an open question.)
Think back to the Medicare for All plan that dominated virtually every Democratic primary debate: The way it did that was by having unpopular provisions — abolishing private insurance, raising broad-based taxes — that kept it a focal point of controversy.
This is a point @davidshor makes, too. It’s behind his consistent admiration for Bernie Sanders. Sanders adopts all kinds of unpopular policy ideas and labels, but it’s in service of keeping controversy focused on his broad issues of strength. twitter.com/ezraklein/stat…
I’m skeptical that polling is that useful a guide to issue popularity, particularly on new issues. I think it’s more reliable as a guide to which party is favored on broad issue areas, like health care or immigration.
The media is attracted to controversy. Controversy requires large or powerful groups to be both opposed ands interested. Most of the time, that requires some degree of unpopularity in your ideas.
Okay, time for some thoughts on "unpopularism," which is the closest I have to a synthesis in this conversation. In short, the missing piece of popularism is what I’d call agenda control. Agenda control requires controversy. You can’t achieve it if you’re afraid to offend.
Here is my response to Alito, who demands to be seen as apolitical while acting politically, who demands civil discourse while he smears his critics, and who describes the press as sensational for rejecting his mischaracterizations of verifiable facts. theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Thank you @ezraklein for a most rewarding chin-wag. Books, trees, dirt…let’s do this. 🌳 @nytimess⁩ @nytopinionn⁩ podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/les…L
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
So @Nick_Offerman is a delight to talk to. And I'm pretty envious of his friend group. twitter.com/nytopinion/sta…
If there is anything at all in the progressive agenda where passing something would be politically helpful, this is it. Sinema and a handful of House Dems need to get with the program. twitter.com/larry_levitt/s…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
The raging debate over Popularism ignores the fact that people aren't hearing what Dems are saying. The bigger problem is that our message is being drowned out by a massive Right-Wing Media operation. If we don't solve that problem, nothing else matters messagebox.substack.com/p/popular-ism-…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Obama did better with Voters Who Matter, because he did better with basically all kinds of voters, because he was a very good (and lucky) politician. It wasn’t a particular gift for communicating with the key sub-sub-sub group. More on that here: mailchi.mp/crooked.com/bi… twitter.com/ezraklein/stat…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Love the latest @ezraklein podcast - a beautiful conversation with the great @Nick_Offerman. Includes so much wisdom and insight about how we might best relate to nature (drawing on the work of @WendellDaily). Check it out! nytimes.com/2021/10/12/opi…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Eh, this thread is long enough. I’ll do Unpopularism later!
At any rate: A candidate who mirrors Obama’s message discipline but doesn’t push the ideological and historic boundaries Obama pushed at that time, and who didn't have the ineffable thing Obama had that excited so many people, would not perform like Obama did.
I'd add that I think the truly underplayed part of Obama’s politics is his level of rhetorical patriotism, and his genius at wrapping his candidacy in a highly pro-American story. I think that, more than moderation, is what liberals and leftists underestimate in his success.
Obama's caution was a corrective to the sides of his candidacy that brought liberals out in droves. You have to see Obama as a whole, not as just one of his strategic choices.
Obama’s message discipline is important to understanding him, and I've emphasized it myself, including in our interview earlier this year. But that's taking Obama in the context of this moment, more than in the context of his own. nytimes.com/2021/06/01/opi…
Obama was a break with that thinking, and he was understood as such. For all the discipline, even in 2012, 51 percent of voters thought Obama was more liberal than they were, while only 39 percent thought Romney more conservative than they were.
It's easy to forget now but the context for Obama was Kerry’s loss. There was endless debate about how Democrats could win back “the Heartland,” how they’d lost touch with real America. This was the era of fetishizing Brian Schweitzer and his bolo tie. nytimes.com/2006/10/08/mag…
First, on Obama: The popularist effort to remind people that Obama exerted message discipline in 08 and 12 risks underselling the obvious: Obama was (and is!) Black, liberal, cosmopolitan and in 08, the anti-war candidate. He was a mobilizer first and foremost.
Ross’s column today on @davidshor and the Democrats’ woes is a good opportunity to talk through two parts of this debate that have been gnawing at me. One is on Obama. The other is on what might be called Unpopularism. nytimes.com/2021/10/12/opi…
One perk of being a paid subscriber to my new newsletter, Adjacent Possible, is getting access to a series of email-based conversations with some of the smartest people I know. This thread lists the stellar lineup for this fall. Sign up for just $5/month. adjacentpossible.substack.com/subscribe
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
"Each expression of curiosity is an invitation to connect. When we see curiosity in another, we recognize in them a place for ourselves." I loved this essay. heterodoxacademy.org/blog/curiosity…
I have more complicated thoughts than "pro" or "con" on popularism -- I think it some things right, like the need to do polls not introspection to identify what is popular, and some things empirically wrong -- but I think it has some significant limits as a guiding philosophy twitter.com/aaron_strauss/…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
But I do think it'd be better if people evaluated politics from the perspective of likely outcomes for governance than likely outcomes for power. Why We're Polarized is all about how divided government now leads to weak and unstable governance.
The alarm I raise in the piece is that if you care about the governance outcomes I do, the Democrats' Senate outlook is *very* worrying. That's different than a party being doomed, and people with different governance views will see this one differently!
But you don't even need to get to the really big legislative priorities for it to be a problem. Can you effectively staff the government and replace court vacancies amidst extended, divided government? Probably not. twitter.com/awprokop/statu…
So my basic response to this is I think extended periods of divided government are much worse now than they were in past eras. If you care about, say, climate action, 10 years of divided government is a disaster. twitter.com/DaveAHopkins/s…
Filibuster-philes in the Democratic Party should consider that forcing the entire agenda to advance through awkward bills with many unrelated provisions essentially guarantees you’ll always have a muddled message and lots of ugly process fights.
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
@ezraklein & it’s part of a long-term process, where the right intentionally & the left somewhat unintentionally undermined public confidence in government & few were left arguing that government works: twitter.com/MattGrossmann/…
Retweeted by Ezra Klein
Everyone should read "Stealth Democracy," which is all about this dynamic. Looks like you can get a pdf here: faculty.washington.edu/jwilker/353/St…
"So one half the media is saying 'Dems are broken.' The other half is saying 'Washington is broken.'" There's a lot of truth to this. And I think people underestimate how bad "Washington is broken" is for the party that wants to govern. twitter.com/drvolts/status…
Twiends™ uses the Twitter™ API, displays it's logo & trademarks, and is not endorsed or certified by them. These items remain the property of Twitter. We do not sell followers, we only provide display advertising. Bots & fake accounts are not permitted on twiends. © 2009
Grow Your Twitter Free
Want To Grow Your Twitter?
We help other people find and follow you on Twitter.
Key Info:
Started in 2009
Over 6 million signups
Country targeting provided
We never auto tweet to your timeline
We never auto follow others
We actively moderate our community
Please Share
Please upgrade your browser  chrome