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Departures Podcast with Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

The deepening economic inequality being experienced in the United States has brought with it considerable cultural and political problems, the most interesting being the popularity of the Republican Party among lower income groups, despite a policy agenda that is decidedly hostile to their own economic interests.

The answer, argue political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their popular new book “Let Them Eat Tweets,” resides in the plutocrats using more and more aggressive instrumentalization of resentment and racism to push through their unpopular platform.

Despite winning the popular vote only once out of the past seven elections in the last 30 years, the Republican Party has managed to stack the Supreme Court with a majority, allowing plutocratic sponsors to focus on achieving their agenda through the courts, encouraging obstructionism, and further moving an unpopular policy agenda further away from the interests of the largest groups of American voters.

Hacker and Pierson argue that the Republican Party is able to achieve a sizable level of support from lower income groups thanks to “ethnic outbidding,” where elites draw upon preexisting resentment, outrage, and hatred based on race, religion, and citizenship, drawing attention away from economic policies which benefit a narrow sliver of the country’s most wealthy plutocrats.

Hacker and Pierson join Robert Amsterdam on the podcast to discuss the main arguments of the book and how the United States has arrived to this dangerous precipice, with the ominous approach of the 2020 presidential elections this fall.