Discover how American politics became a toxic system, why we participate in it, and what it means for our future—from journalist, political commentator, and cofounder of Vox, Ezra Klein.
After Election Day 2016, both supporters and opponents of the soon-to-be president hailed his victory as a historically unprecedented event. Most Americans could agree that no candidate like Donald Trump had ever been elected President before. But political journalist Ezra Klein makes the case that the 2016 election wasn’t surprising at all. In fact, Trump’s electoral victory followed the exact same template as previous elections, by capturing a nearly identical percentage of voter demographics as previous Republican candidates.
Over the past 50 years in America, our partisan identities have merged with our racial, religious, geographic, ideological, and cultural identities. Those merged identities have attained a weight that is breaking much in our politics and tearing at the bonds that hold this country together.
In this groundbreaking book, Klein shows how and why American politics polarized around identity in the 20th century, and what that polarization did to the way we see the world and each other. And he traces the feedback loops between our polarized political identities and our polarized political institutions that are driving our political system towards crisis.
Neither a polemic nor a lament, Klein offers a clear framework for understanding everything from Trump’s rise to the Democratic Party’s leftward shift to the politicization of everyday culture. A revelatory book that will change how you look at politics, and perhaps at yourself.
Ezra Klein is the editor-at-large and cofounder of Vox, the award-winning explanatory news organization. Launched in 2014, Vox reaches over 50 million people across its platforms each month. Klein is also the host of the podcast The Ezra Klein Show, cohost of the Weeds podcast, and an executive producer on Vox’s Netflix show, Explained. Previously, Klein was a columnist and editor at The Washington Post, a policy analyst at MSNBC, and a contributor to Bloomberg. He’s written for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, and appeared on Face the Nation, The Daily Show, PBS NewsHour, and many more.
"Brilliant and wide-ranging. A book about what just might be our central, perhaps fatal problem. This is the kind of book you find yourself arguing with out loud as you read it and will stick in your head long after you've finished. Absolutely crucial for understanding this perilous moment." —Chris Hayes, host of “All In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC and author of A Colony in a Nation
“Something has gone terribly wrong with American politics in the last decade or so, and Klein gives us the clearest and most comprehensive analysis I have seen. He shows how we entered the realm of political ‘mega identity politics,’ and how feedback loops between our tribal psychology and our rapidly evolving media ecosystem may be driving our democracy over a cliff. The book reviews so many studies that in lesser hands it would earn the label ‘wonkish,’ but Klein’s writing is so good that it is a joy to read, even as you experience a range of negative emotions from what you are reading.” —Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University—Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind, Co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind