WASHINGTON, DC — If this election cycle has made one thing clear, it’s that both the Democratic and Republican establishments have lost touch with voters. As we consider what comes next, American Compass has convened commentators from across the political spectrum to discuss what’s gone wrong and how both parties can reorient themselves toward the issues that actually matter to the American people, in “PARTY FOUL: How the Left and Right Fail American Voters.”
From the Left, Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, discusses what he sees as the five “deadly sins” of contemporary progressivism: identity politics, retro-socialism, catastrophism, growthphobia, and technopessimism. He notes that “the public just isn’t interested in buying what the Left is selling. No matter how loudly the Left hawks its wares or how heroically it organizes, even as America grapples with a pandemic-driven health and economic crisis, it will not succeed.”
From the Right, Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, describes three “deadly sins” of right-wing orthodoxy: market fundamentalism, “WASP” snobbery, and a hubris that attributes all inequality in outcomes to merit. Looking to the GOP’s history, Olsen argues that these “sins” flow “from attitudes and emphases that are fundamentally at odds with the views and beliefs of the (often large) majority of Americans.”
These issues are summarized by American Compass executive director Oren Cass in the Financial Times, where he writes that leaders in both political parties have become preoccupied with only those issues of most interest to people like themselves. To reinvigorate the parties and American politics more broadly, candidates should prioritize issues that matter to a majority of Americans—the working class—including non-college career pathways and organized labor.
In a forthcoming discussion, Cass discusses these problems and potential solutions with Chris Arnade, author of Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America, and J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy. They highlight the need for a real economy that “makes things,” the indistinguishability of the parties in the eyes of many working-class voters, and where they have greatest hope for a future political realignment.