Dani Rodrik, It’s a war of ideas, not of interests

Another perceptive blog post by Dani Rodrik.

The progressives’ preference for specific policies is rooted in the view that voters’ “interests” – as they derive from their occupation, income, race, or gender – are fairly fixed. So policies are winners as long as they appeal to those “interests.”

But there is a complementary perspective in politics that says political competition is as much about shaping those interests. The politics of ideas is about activating identities that may otherwise remain silent, altering perceptions about how the world works, and enlarging the space of what is politically feasible.

Progressives need to shape the narrative that structures voters’ interests. They need to be able to appeal to identities beyond race and gender – occupation, social class, income status, and patriotism. They need to convince the electorate that it is their interests they have at heart – not those of bankers or of large corporations.  They need to forge a story line that will shape a package of policy proposals into a politically appealing whole.

Progressives need not give up on the white, male working class. But they need to understand that politics is as much about redefining perceptions of interests as it is about responding to those interests.

Read the whole post.

 

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