Leonhardt’s book examines modern economic history through the ideas of the New Deal’s architects, labor leaders like George Meany and Walter Reuther; and their intellectual opponents, conservatives like Milton Friedman and Robert Bork.
As Leonhardt tells that story, he says the Democratic Party has made a politically risky leftward turn away from blue collar voters and toward high-brow, progressive culture warriors.
And he has a warning for Democrats: their recent successes may be an illusion.
At the heart of Leonhardt’s history of the rise and fall of the American Dream is a story about how Democrats ceded the loyalties of the working class to Republicans by not paying enough attention to the average American’s concerns about crime immigration, and economic progress.
It’s also the story of big ideas that both parties embraced — like unfettered free trade with China and permissive immigration — that Leonhardt argues haven’t lived up to the promises made by their architects.
On this week’s episode of Deep Dive, Leonhardt joins host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to talk about how Democrats can salvage their relationship with the working class and how the American system could once again produce the economic and social progress that used to be the norm.