Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Why Democrats Don't Need to Fear the Socialist Revolution in Their Midst

Imagine this scenario: Republicans, after viewing dozens of polls and considering recent political history, begin publicly asking whether passing a gigantic tax cut for the wealthy and corporations was actually a terrible idea, and one they should never repeat. Some insist that it was the right thing to do, but just as many are adamant that if the party really wants to appeal to a majority of the public and win elections in the future, it can't go down this foolhardy path. You can't imagine it, can you? That kind of ideological second-guessing is something Republicans just don't do—even when the public is firmly and obviously opposed to their agenda. Democrats, on the other hand? They love them some self-flagellation. And this is the great irony of contemporary party politics. We have one party whose agenda is largely rejected by the public, but which doesn't bother to wonder whether they should become more moderate. Then we have another party whose agenda is extraordinarily...

Someday, Republicans May Reject Trump's White Nationalism — But Not Yet

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
After George W. Bush left office with the economy in crisis and the Iraq War widely acknowledged as the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history, Republicans began a desperate rehabilitation campaign—not to restore his image, but to salvage their own. Bush? We never liked him anyway, they said, the evidence of eight years of worshipful support notwithstanding. Searching for some grounds on which to make this absurd claim, they said he wasn't a real conservative because he didn't cut spending. So their hands were clean. When Donald Trump leaves office, either in 2021 or 2025, Republicans will go through the same charade. The "Never Trump" crew, they'll insist at that point, didn't consist of a few hardy intellectuals and writers, but instead included nearly every Republican. The occasional note of discomfort they express today ("I wish he wouldn't tweet so much") will be retroactively transformed into a full-throated rebellion, one that was no less courageous for the...

The Liberal Backlash Is Coming

(AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Among the many privileges certain Americans enjoy—along with the presumption of competence and driving without being pulled over unless they actually commit a moving violation—is the right to cry out in rage at the sight of political and societal change, to demand that things revert back to how they were before, and to find this demand greeted with understanding and consideration. Indeed, the angry demand for a reversion to the prior order—what we can call the politics of backlash—has been the basis of Republican electoral success for decades. They have held up one social or political development after another and told have voters, "These changes are the symptom and cause of what you have lost." Your standard of living, your hopes for the future, the vibrancy of your community, your security, your place in a society ordered as you would like it, or just the feeling that people like you are on top, where they should be—whenever any of it is threatened, the...

Should Trump Staffers Be Shamed and Protested Wherever They Go?

It's getting hard out there for a Trump staffer. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who made the interesting choice to go out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant at the moment her department was separating thousands of children from their parents at our border with Mexico, found herself heckled by protesters shouting "Shame!" Politico reports that "Staffers leaving the White House grounds semi-regularly catch passersby flipping them the bird," and the young ones looking for love on dating apps find that when prospective partners find out who they work for they're regularly rejected, with some colorful insults thrown in. And last Friday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders posted this on Twitter: Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so — Sarah...

Has Trump Overestimated the Cruelty of His Own Supporters?

When it comes to public policy, Donald Trump doesn't believe in very much. He has little in the way of strong feelings about abortion or guns or health care, for instance, though he understands that staying consistent with Republican orthodoxy is politically important for him. But there are a few issues he cares deeply about, and has since before he became a politician. Trade is one of them; he thinks that whenever an American buys something made in another country, the country has been made to look the fool and the world is laughing at us . The other major issue on which Trump has firm beliefs is immigration, and now we are truly seeing those beliefs put into practice, and the result is one of the more intense controversies of this presidency. After a lengthy internal argument in which the utility and morality of separating children from their parents when they try to cross the border was debated by Trump administration officials, the hardliners won out. Now, instead of putting...

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