• Trump as a Symptom as Much as a Cause: Talking to Steven Levitsky

    What can the rise of authoritarians and would-be authoritarians, past and present, abroad and at home, suggest to us about how most constructively to respond to the Trump presidency? What might broader trends towards U.S. political polarization tell us about our longer-term fate, before and after Trump? When I want to ask such questions, I pose them to Steven Levitsky. This present conversation focuses on Levitsky’s How Democracies Die, co-written with Daniel Ziblatt, whose thoughts on these questions, and more, will be published here on July 6. Levitsky is a professor of Latin American Studies and of Government at Harvard University. His research interests include political parties and party-building, authoritarianism and democratization, and weak and informal institutions, with a focus on Latin America. He is author of Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective (2003), co-author of Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War (2010), and co-editor of Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness (2005), Informal Institutions and Democracy: Lessons from Latin America (2006), The Resurgence of the Left in Latin America (2011), and Challenges of Party-Building in Latin America (2016). He is currently writing a book (with Lucan Way) on the durability of revolutionary regimes.  


    ANDY FITCH: Since your book’s reflections on authoritarianism tend to prioritize prominent individuals, and since you sometimes refer to such leaders not “revealing” their authoritarian side until having attained a sufficient degree of power, I wondered where something like a fixed characterological type fits within this study, as well as how we might pivot from retrospective historical narratives (“He took his first step towards authoritarianism…”) to present-tense diagnoses. Could we, for instance, classify any of Hugo Chávez’s earliest attempts at uprising or economic redistribution as progressively democratic? Should we have sensed an essentially, inevitably, dangerously authoritarian component in his every move from the start? These might sound like academic distinctions, but if one primary purpose of How Democracies Die is to delineate certain categorical tripwires that can embed themselves within a collective vernacular, and can generate consensus-based pushback when a leader crosses them, then where should we set those tripwires?

    STEVEN LEVITSKY: Well first, you definitely can be a progressive resistance fighter and be authoritarian. But more generally, my take on your question is that we just don’t know. For the vast majority of cases we (I sense most political scientists would agree) really cannot know what’s in these guys’ hearts. I would guess (and I think many colleagues would assume) a distribution exists, so that maybe 10% of politicians out there (not solely in the United States) are authoritarians in their hearts, authoritarian types. They don’t have a liberal bone in their body. And another percentage of folks, at this spectrum’s other end, stand out as really committed liberal democrats in their hearts. Put them in any circumstance, and they will behave democratically.

    But for the vast majority of individual politicians, we just don’t know. They’re very pragmatic. A lot depends on the circumstance. So if you put Hugo Chávez in Uruguay, who knows what happens? Or if there’s a popular anti-fascist constituency out there, many pragmatic politicians will work with that. If there are rules that are breakable, they’ll break them. But if the rules are very strong, if there’s a huge risk or huge price to be paid for authoritarian behavior, then they won’t behave like authoritarians. So since we consider most politicians pretty pragmatic, we have to rely on a much blunter measurement — based on their behavior. And even the table of four indicators we offer in our book (which draws heavily on Juan Linz’s writing) presents a pretty blunt instrument which doesn’t work all the time. Viktor Orbán governs democratically as prime minister the first time around. For Chávez though, leading a military coup in 1992 provides a pretty good indicator that he, from the get-go, is someone to watch out for.

    I actually found your four key indicators of authoritarian behavior (rejection of democratic norms, denial of political opponents’ legitimacy, toleration of violence, readiness to curtail civil liberties — and for which you say that no major presidential candidate in the century preceding Trump, aside from Richard Nixon, has met even one) quite clarifying. But given how partisan we’ve become in the last couple decades, I do sense that my 2004 self would have retorted that George W. Bush’s administration in fact met all of these criteria, deploying deceptive tactics, stoking paranoid aggression, amid broader efforts to demonize and/or deny basic legal protections to Muslims abroad and gay Americans back home. I can envision scenarios in which a religious conservative argues (to my mind, distortively) that multiple presidents have abetted and even encouraged state-sanctioned violence towards the unborn. So again, how at present might we not only articulate, but collectively agree upon, a concrete, actionable conception of authoritarian threat?

    It’s extremely hard, especially relative to the 1970s — and I don’t mean to present that as some kind of golden age. Here let’s say we end up with overwhelming evidence of criminal behavior on Trump’s part, but with 40% of the population and nearly all House Republicans saying “No problem.” I mean I routinely get responses from Republicans, not always Trump supporters, saying: “What are you talking about? Trump doesn’t meet any of these criteria. Obama meets all four. Why don’t you discuss Obama?” So as you suggest, the litmus test doesn’t seem to be the problem.

    And in researching and then writing this book I’ve had a…I hated George W. Bush. But I’ve actually reevaluated his presidency a bit. Of course this all has to do with relative context. Context matters a ton. And as you know, our book focuses a lot on the opportunities that a security crisis opens up. Bush faced an extraordinary security crisis, one that brought him a 90% approval rating. And so really smart, careful scholars writing university-press books have made the case that George Bush could have done anything he wanted in the months following the 9/11 attacks. His administration definitely passed some policies that I found scary, and that threatened civil liberties, and that I strongly oppose to this day. But Bush did not wield government institutions as weapons against the Democrats, for his own advantage, and I think he actually engaged in a striking degree of forbearance — which I would not have said about him [Laughter] then.

    Conversely, do you sometimes find it useful to call out progressive authoritarians, in order to try to establish a more bipartisan dynamic? Could you talk about what it means to try to come to this conversation from the left, but in the hopes of truly creating bipartisan consensus? We’ve mentioned Chávez of course.

    So I have a couple different takes on that. Yes, I do consider that type of approach important for reinforcing norms, and for political reasons, and just to be a good teacher. We should acknowledge that the left has its own authoritarianism. As a left liberal, as a Latin Americanist, I find myself constantly caught up in these debates. Of course I’m also constantly being whacked by intellectuals and activists on the left for my denunciation of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, or Chávez, or for finding fault even with Evo Morales (much less an authoritarian than Chávez). But I think it’s incredibly important to be consistent. I cannot possibly persuade somebody on the right to oppose a right-wing authoritarian if I refuse to apply a broadly similar standard on the left. We try to do that in this book. The caveat, though, comes from the fact that, in the contemporary U.S. case, it seems objective to present Republicans as more problematic, more authoritarian. So we do call out Obama for constitutional hardball. But clearly the Republican’s don’t think that we are hard enough on Obama. So what do you do if one side really is going authoritarian?

    Do you want to begin answering that question, or just to raise it?

    It’s been difficult for us. At the end of the day, I think you have to call out the authoritarians, and if they fall mostly on one side, then you can’t always offer some balanced equivalent. We can’t pretend Obama was maybe as authoritarian as Trump, just so that we can appeal to Republicans. That would be ridiculous.

    So let’s say I note an apparent tension in your book between focusing on particular authoritarian individuals (Trump especially), and, on the other hand, seeking to direct readers’ attention beyond the latest Trump antics, towards a broader acceleration of political polarization stretching before and potentially after Trump. Or let’s say How Democracies Die’s emphasis upon authoritarian leaders appears to clash with how my rudimentary historical training taught me to prioritize various aspects of a “people’s history,” aspects often marginalized by singular attention to a small coterie of self-styled authorities and the institutional structures foregrounding their importance. Or let’s just say that an account of authoritarian figureheads leaves me puzzled about how I ever could initiate some sort of proactive citizen-driven response, rather than simply waiting for the great men of history (on whichever authoritarian or non-authoritarian side) to decide things for me. Obviously, we shouldn’t hold any single book (especially such a timely book) accountable for answering all such possible argumentative snags. But what connections would you like an individual citizen-reader to make here to broader, ongoing political conversations — maybe in terms of how my own potential contribution to everyday partisanship effects this long-term equation about the emergence of authoritarian leadership?

    We get versions of this question from citizens all the time in talks. And frankly, we don’t have a great answer. As you pointed out, we don’t focus on individual authoritarian leaders as much as a superficial reading of this book might suggest. We wrote this book because of worrying about Trump, but ultimately we reach the conclusion that the problems with American democracy go much deeper than Trump. We think of Trump as a symptom as much as a cause, and his departure from the presidency will not cure our democracy.

    So reviews of our book that place us in this category of hysteria over Donald Trump really piss me off. But that said, we, as political scientists, do focus on elites in this book. Most of my scholarly work on regimes is actually very structuralist. It focuses on longer-term historical processes. It doesn’t focus this much on proper names, on leaders. But I think the more one focuses on one’s own country, the more one tends to focus more on leaders and choices those leaders make. So this is the most leadership-centered piece I’ve ever done. It’s not that bottom-up kind of social history. We focus on parties, party leaders. And we don’t offer a lot of solutions to the symptoms.

    Do you want to offer any now?

    That would leave me with too many things to tell you. But look, we think it’s very important that individual citizens hold politicians accountable for certain behavior. And the test ahead of us for progressives, as Democrats decide how to respond to Trump…there’s debate about this right now. The political scientist David Faris’s new book argues that it’s time to fight dirty.

    There’s an important wing of progressive thought, including within the Democratic Party, which believes, very strongly, that Democrats need to fight just like Republicans. Daniel and I believe that citizens will have to decide either to support or to put a stop to this type of leadership. Our Democratic Party leaders, more specifically, will engage in more combative behavior if the base demands it. We find that scary.

    Has Trump at least made a corrosive polarization more viscerally repulsive for more Americans? Can more Americans see now, right in their face, the dangers of polarization? And/or, when does obsession (positive or negative) with this one headline-grabbing figure further obscure the problematics of everyday polarization?

    I would agree with all of that unfortunately, without offering any good short-term solution. Galvanizing Democrats against Trump is in many, many respects a healthy, positive development — one that can help to protect our democracy. My colleague Theda Skocpol has been doing on-the-ground research in four purple states, going to small communities and tracking citizen responses to recent politics, and she’s found a massive middle-class, middle-aged, predominantly female mobilization in response to Trump. This group is pretty moderate. It’s pretty pragmatic, very institutional. They’ve started taking over some local Democratic parties, and they’re actively running for office. And it’s anger at Trump. It’s fear of Trump. It’s hostility toward Trump to a large degree driving all of that. If the Democrats perform really well in the midterm elections, and take a step towards saving our democracy as a result, it will have come from Democrats feeling mobilized by anger towards Trump — exactly what you pointed to. I consider that pretty healthy in the short-term, especially as it boosts voter turnout. In the long run, though, it will probably increase polarization. Those activists (who, again, are doing what they should be doing) won’t then step back and say: “Hmm, what should we do about polarization?” They’re going to say “Let’s beat Trump,” or sometimes “Let’s impeach Trump.” But you also do see a fair number of politicians, journalists, academics, funders all worried sick about problems of polarization. You do see that increased interest at the elite level. I’m really struck by the number of books, articles, conferences on that topic over the past year.

    So let’s say that Democrats do win big in 2018. What case would you make to a Democratic base, if and when this fundamental authoritarian threat gets a bit more contained, for why Democrats too need to rethink their approach to polarizing political conversations, in order for the whole country to move forward?

    David Frum I think has argued better than anybody that the primary reason why Republicans behave this way is they’ve got very short time horizons. The Republican Party as presently constituted can’t keep winning elections at the national level. They’re heading for something that looks like the California Republican Party. So you can see in their behavior a desperate effort to maximize power, to hold onto as much of it as they can in the short term.

    Democrats have a different horizon. Their medium-term scenario actually looks pretty good. So the Democrats have an interest in preserving our democratic rules of the game because, in the end, it benefits the party if that game survives. Engaging in a dangerous sort of death-spiral of norm-erosion would go against the enlightened self-interest of the party.

    And in terms of preserving the rules of our democratic game, I take very seriously your claim that isolating extremism requires the courage to compromise with rivals (here for progressives: to figure out how best to work with business leaders, white evangelicals, red-state constituents). Could you provide a couple low-hanging-fruit examples of where/how you see such coalitions potentially coming together?

    That’s a great question. Again, I don’t consider this an area of expertise, but one micro-example might come from boycotts, consumer boycotts say in the case of Arizona resisting the Martin Luther King holiday, or the bathroom bill in North Carolina — where progressives have aligned or at least worked in concert with a good chunk of the private sector. If these coalitions ever get around to discussing taxes and the size of government, these sides [Laughter] might not agree.

    Those examples make a lot of sense. Though I also wonder if or when such boycotts intensify regional polarities.

    Yeah, I mean, we’re a big, diverse, divided country. On no issue will we ever build a coalition of the whole. And with those specific state examples I mentioned, civil liberties might come into play, but you still don’t see substantial authoritarian abuse. You still have at least the pretense of legitimate policy difference.

    But our broader argument is that liberals, progressives, have gotten out of the habit of real coalition-building. Progressives talk about coalition-building all the time, and the progressive synagogue meets with the progressive black church and the progressive Presbyterian congregation. But real coalition-building means working with somebody with whom you disagree, somebody who you could see yourself opposing in another arena. The defense of democracy requires coming together with such people, extending beyond the assuredly blue 48 or 49 percent.

    Could you discuss a bit how post-conflict coalition-building played out in Chile, maybe first in elite circles, but building outwards from there? And what might pre-conflict coalitions likewise learn from that model?

    Yeah, we do try to advocate for this type of ideological coalition-building, in advance of destructive conflict, which is even harder. Only years after Pinochet seized power, and established a bloody dictatorship, did the center and the left begin to talk. A similar process took decades in Spain under Franco. Or it took Germany’s catastrophic defeat in World War II for this kind of cooperation to emerge. So it may be somewhat Pollyannaish to expect politicians to be farsighted enough to engage in that practical way before they stare into the abyss. But we do push for that.

    But so the Christian Democrats (center/center-right in Chile) and the left did an extraordinarily good job of setting aside partisan differences, setting aside their ideological differences (which were great), setting aside hostilities towards each other. The Christian Democratic Party openly supported the coup against Allende. That’s a lot of bad blood. We see a really important example here. And you’re right that it started at the elite level, when these party leaders started having dinners in the late 70s, started pursuing and eventually figured out a way (despite still holding very different ideological views, and still holding very different views about Allende) to prioritize the defense of democracy and opposition to Pinochet. They built a much better democracy as a result. That’s not a small thing. But again, they lived through Pinochet. We haven’t had to do that.

    Along those lines, could you further articulate what you consider the most overlooked threats Trump’s presidency still poses (here, for instance, your concerns over what will happen when he faces more dramatic domestic and foreign-policy crises, while already feeling besieged by critics and shackled by democratic norms and institutions), as well as your concerns about Trump not only capitalizing on political polarization, but catalyzing it ever-further towards corrosive tit-for-tap political combat — until more strategic, more ruthlessly consistent, more successfully authoritarian figures or collectivities might emerge? Let’s say, for example, that what we see at present more closely resembles September 10th, 2001, with us thinking we know in depth by now what a pathetic regime this is (but that, in fact, we haven’t yet seen how assertively this regime will operate in a moment of crisis, implementing snap decisions without facing any significant, well-timed resistance). Could you outline how to address those concerns of what we can’t yet fully anticipate, but which we need to be ready to resist?

    I see various possible threats. As long as Trump has a 40% approval rating, and remains this broadly inept at governing and coalition-building, then, if I had to bet a dollar, I’d guess our democratic institutions will muddle through. But my greatest fear continues to involve these types of security crises. I doubt that Trump ever could get to a 90% approval rating. But Donald Trump with 60% or 70% support could get very very dangerous indeed. He would have a number of institutional and political constraints lifted. The courts almost never stand up to a president in a period of crisis. Congress rarely stands up to presidents in periods of crisis. Opposition parties tend to quiet themselves during certain types of acute crisis, especially on foreign policy. The media tends to stay pretty silent or complacent during those crises.

    And Trump, on his own, has displayed minimal interest or ability to engage in the kind of forbearance necessary to preserve our democracy. Also, even though it sometimes seems that Trump can’t really accomplish anything beyond his latest blathering rhetoric, it looks increasingly clear, from survey evidence, that Trump already has undermined the legitimacy of many core democratic institutions in this country. A large number of Americans (and a truly terrifying number of Republicans) no longer believe that the media serves a useful, broadly independent role in our democracy. A large number believe that the press conspires to undermine this president, and that we should punish media for publishing such “false” or “mistaken” information. A shocking number of Americans consider our elections fraudulent. A couple recent polls have suggested that if Trump were to call for some sort of suspension or postponement of elections, based on our election process needing to be “cleaned up,” many would support that. So you do see some evidence of Trump creating the public-opinion basis, or helping create the constituency, for authoritarian behavior to come.

    Here I also think of one recent statement from you and Daniel that: “No one is quite like Trump. He uniquely combines three important features…first, he is a wealthy political outsider, like Berlusconi in Italy and Thaksin in Thailand…second, he has clear authoritarian instincts, like Correa in Ecuador or Erdoğan in Turkey…and third, in terms of personal character, he is deeply unfit for office.” I find most striking here that your statement’s internal symmetry itself falls apart when you arrive at questions of personal character — as if no recent example even comes close. More broadly though, could we again try to abstract, from the specific case of Trump, questions about where a comparative study of authoritarian leaders can provide useful diagnostic insight, and where it can’t help breaking down from one particular historical context to the next? For one example, I just find it hard to parse, amid the kaleidoscopic swirl of Trump’s authoritarian leanings (psychological instability, ethical immaturity, incompetence in envisioning policy and playing the part of public figurehead, periodic ideological extremity or indifference, persistent ignorance regarding the workings of American government and civil society), when Trump actively attacks democratic norms or when he (and, it turns out, many Americans) simply doesn’t see them — and whether any such distinctions of personal intent should matter. So we could address the question of whether you consider a blathering idiot like Trump more or less dangerous than some calculating mastermind manipulator. Or could you describe, more generally, ways in which extended reflection on Trump’s presidency has reshaped your own thinking about how subsequent studies should track, or compare, or seek to contain unprecedented yet nonetheless predictably authoritarian scenarios?

    Authoritarians definitely vary a lot in terms of their competence and in terms of whether or not they have a deliberate project. At present, Viktor Orbán and probably Recep Erdoğan offer the best examples of shrewd, competent, authoritarian leaders. But you also can find highly inexperienced authoritarian leaders in the recent past, for example Alberto Fujimori in Peru — who, like Trump, had never held any elected office, had no related experience. I would say that Fujimori showed himself to have authoritarian instincts, but not to have a coherent authoritarian plan. I wouldn’t call Fujimori as bumbling as Trump, though he did seem pretty bumbling at first. Basically he came in with a populist discourse, and then at least semi-inadvertently entered into this escalating conflict with the elite, which produced a coup.

    But in terms of your question, I’d probably rather face a bumbling idiot like Trump than someone like Viktor Orbán — who knows what he is doing. Of course bumbling idiots do bring their own dangers. They’re more likely to lead us into indefensible and self-destructive wars, which I do find really scary.

    For one other point of historical comparison, I still find it difficult to discern in which ways Trump’s rise fits the familiar explanatory pattern in which established political players embrace an extremist — under the misguided assumption that they can manipulate this extremist to their own desired ends. I can’t tell whether recent lived experience suggests that a much more muddled combination of obliviousness and cowardice (here in terms of Republicans’ relation to their own political base at various stages of the 2016 primary and beyond) and/or of institutional inertia (how, precisely, should Congress respond to a 4 AM tweet?) can, on its own (without requiring some more dramatic, personalized, moralized, colossal miscalculation by some elite), prompt such problematic partnerships. Here again, though, the broader question becomes: what constructive lessons can we take from historical comparisons to past authoritarian scenarios, if local context matters as much as you say it does?

    Well part of what makes comparisons to the U.S. case so difficult is that very, very few truly established democracies have broken down in history. We had to search pretty hard, and really the closest comparisons (both flawed comparisons, limited comparisons) come from Chile in the 70s and the U.S. at the time of the Civil War (again, with the U.S. still far from a full democracy in the 1850s — more just a stable kind of constitutional liberal regime). Russia never had a stable, fully democratic regime. Most of the endless articles lately highlighting democratic “breakdowns,” and democracy’s global crisis, focus on very weak or only partial democracies. So you can’t find the perfect comparison, but you still can learn important lessons.

    Your specific question about established conservatives aligning with demagogues comes out of Daniel’s work, years of research on interwar Europe. I think you can find some pretty good lessons there. Yes, when you’re inside the moment, you face much more uncertainty. A series of small impulsive steps might lead to what we later characterize as one single, disastrous decision. But we can learn a lot from placing these histories alongside each other. I consider it a useful lesson that a short-term decision to align with (and potentially legitimate) some demagogue will not end well. I consider it useful to see these precedents of would-be authoritarians manipulating, exaggerating, sometimes just inventing a security crisis — allowing them to break through barriers that might have seemed unbreakable. I find all of those lessons particularly useful for this country, where the vast majority of us have always taken American democracy for granted, where we’ve never thought about these questions.

    Here could we close on How Democracies Die’s claim that political parties’ gatekeeping function, if better thought through, could offer a much more cogent “peer review” process than provided at present, as one crucial check against this emergence of authoritarian leaders? And can I first sketch a few provisional caveats, so that you don’t have to? In terms of institutional function, you acknowledge from the start that a political party’s two most basic purposes (to foster democratizing participation, and to filter out non-normative figures) already might find themselves in permanent tension. In terms of the problematic historical legacy of U.S. political parties, you don’t hide the fact that America’s party system proved essential to 90 additional years of systemic black voter suppression (providing, for instance, a privatized evasion of 14th-amendment protections). In terms of consensus-building norms, you likewise acknowledge that the mid-20th-century big-tent parties contained unsustainable ideological contradictions — again with any consensus often built around exclusionary/discriminatory practices and patriarchal assumptions. In terms of more recent historical ironies, you trace how post-Chicago ‘68 reforms to both parties’ decision-making processes actually helped set the stage for anti-democratic populists like Trump — with the less elitist Republican nomination process all the more susceptible to such trends. And then in terms of present-day conventional wisdom: widespread assumptions that parties permanently have lost their hold on American politics (due especially to demographic and technological changes, and for now to lax campaign-finance rulings), combined with an ideologically diverse range of critiques discrediting political gatekeepers of any sort, all might seem to argue against political-scientists articulating the persistent, perhaps more timely than ever, importance of political parties. So within that broader context, what countervailing case can you offer for the ongoing importance of our party system?

    Daniel and I both, in public forums, have defended the existence of superdelegates in the Democratic Party. That is not a popular position these days, let me tell you, certainly not with my Bernie Sanders-supporting friends.

    And it’s true that parties may be on the wane. We still do democracy with 18th- and 19th- and early-20th-century institutions. Quite probably, in the decades to come, we’ll have to rethink quite seriously how our democracies work. The formal rules, the organizations, will have to reform themselves around new circumstances. So the 20th-century institutions I’m about to champion definitely will have to innovate in ways I don’t have the brainpower to anticipate. But thus far in history, political parties have been, far and away, democracy’s best gatekeepers. In most democracies throughout world history, especially in modern history, parties have selected the candidates and formed the governments. You see even more clearly in parliamentary systems that parties choose candidates and form governments. Parties decide who will get to hold the levers of power. And there’s nothing angelic about party leaders. They tend to be very pragmatic, very risk-averse — but in terms of keeping out extremists and demagogues, that’s generally a good thing.

    Now there’s no question that binding primaries, like we had in 1972, are more democratic than a system in which party leaders choose the candidate. And as you said, the Republican process is even more democratic than the Democratic process, because Republicans don’t have superdelegates. The Democrats got scared by 1972 and then by 1976, with first McGovern and then Carter, with neither candidate a favorite of the party leaders. So the Democrats created a system of superdelegates in the early 80s, while the Republicans were enthralled with Ronald Reagan and didn’t seem to have any problem with their candidate-selection process. And so I don’t consider it entirely coincidental that our first demagogue came through the Republican Party and not the Democratic Party.

    Of course Daniel and I don’t advocate going back to the old smoke-filled rooms. We advocate a mixed system in which voters have a say, but party leaders also have a say (as with superdelegates). Nelson Polsby, who was a professor at Berkeley when we studied there, made the argument, many years ago, that party leaders can engage the best in a process of what he called peer-review. These guys have worked with the candidates. They’ve seen the candidates up close. They’ve seen the good and the bad. They know how these candidates perform under stress and adversity. They know, quite well, whether or not somebody’s an irresponsible demagogue. Voters, by contrast, don’t know squat about candidates’ personal character. Voters know what they see on TV. And so the argument can be made (was made by Polsby), though it’s not popular to make today, that limiting internal democracy in parties, in order to preserve the broader democratic regime, has real value — that parties need to play a gatekeeping role in order to keep the overall liberal democracy healthy.

    And how do you phrase that to your Bernie Sanders friends? What argument would you offer to persuade them on their own terms? How might this appeal to parties likewise appeal to their own progressive instincts? How might party gatekeeping actually push progressive politics towards broader policy gains?

    I’ve actually not yet had this debate with my Bernie Sanders friends, not in any detail. That’s one argument I still need to prepare for.

    You won’t be wasting your time if you prepare for that one. [Laughter]

    No, it’s definitely coming. It’s an important debate for all of us.