Arthur Goldhammer

Arthur Goldhammer is a writer, translator, and Affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard. He blogs at French Politics. Follow him on Twitter: @artgoldhammer.

Recent Articles

Stuck in the Middle with You

In defense of the political center. 

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses as she speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. R emember the old hit by the Scottish band Stealers Wheel, “Stuck in the Middle with You”? That song comes to mind these days whenever I talk politics with the people with whom I’ve shared a political lifetime, friends who’ve witnessed the 1960s and Vietnam, Watergate, the Reagan reaction, the Clinton years, September 11, the war in Iraq, the crash of 2008, the election of the first black president, the hesitant recovery from the Great Recession, and the cliff-hanger passage of the Affordable Care Act. A few have supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, but most are backing Hillary Clinton, albeit without enthusiasm: stuck in the middle with “jokers to the right,” as the song says, and while not “clowns to the left,” certainly, a mostly younger crowd, less...


At the heart of Trump's appeal is not authoritarianism but the cult of celebrity. 

AP Photo/Branden Camp
AP Photo/Branden Camp Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Macon Centreplex, Monday, November 30, 2015, in Macon, Georgia. A lexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat who achieved fame in the early 19th century with his portrait of democracy in America , thought that democratic societies were transparent places whose citizens clearly understood one another. “In America, where privileges of birth never existed, and where wealth confers no particular rights on those who possess it, people who do not know one another easily frequent the same places. … Their approach is therefore natural, frank, and open.” Tocqueville would therefore be stunned by the sight of America in 2016. Indeed, any presidential election year is likely to reveal that Americans do not know one another nearly as well as they, like their French visitor, often assume. Democratic societies are by no means transparent. For all sorts of reasons, people remain oblivious of...

Will Britain Quit the European Union?

Whether the UK leaves the EU has less to do with turmoil in Europe, and more to do with British politics.

(Photo: AP/Steve Parsons)
(Photo: AP/Steve Parsons) Passengers pass through the UK border at Heathrow Airport. T he anthem of the European Union is Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” but unlike the national anthems of member states, it’s never played in football stadiums over the cheers of thousands of excited fans. The EU is and always has been unloved, an ugly duckling, an Unidentified Foreign Object rather than a cherished darling of joyful patriotic effusion. Its benefits are diffuse and harder to demonstrate than its defects, which are ripe for ridicule in every absurd regulation . Yet it has survived for more than half a century and grown in both extent and depth, from the six member states of what was at its inception little more than a customs union, to today’s 28-member “single Europe,” which exerts powerful influence on the laws and mores of its subsidiary polities. The last few years have nevertheless severely tested the robustness of the novel political and economic arrangements that define the EU. The...

A Tale of Two Troubled Democracies

How insurgent populism is reshaping electoral politics in France and the U.S.

Gil C/Shutterstock
Gil C/Shutterstock W hile Bernie Sanders was surprising Hillary Clinton in Iowa and taking her to the cleaners in New Hampshire with his brand of democratic socialism, I was in France, where a democratically elected president who calls himself a socialist saw his approval touch historic lows. It would nevertheless be a mistake to conclude from this stark contrast that the American electorate had taken a sharp turn to the left while the French had veered sharply to the right. In both countries, formerly stable two-party systems thrown off kilter by the global economic collapse have yet to regain their equilibrium. But France, once a country of dramatic ideological conflict, now looks like a paragon of consensual politics compared to the bitterly polarized United States. In both countries, impatience with technocratic elites and fears that immigration threatens the national identity have fueled populist reactions. Voters are rejecting the gloomy status quo in favor of bold and sometimes...

Eggs, Sausages, Bernie Sanders, and the Jewish Question

Despite his initial success, Sanders faces enormous barriers in his bid for the White House. 

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowded room during a campaign stopMonday, January 18, 2016, in Birmingham, Alabama. W ith the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary looming just ahead, it seems like a good time to turn from my regular European beat to the situation at home in the United States. The Republican contest is too appalling to contemplate, but on the Democratic side the race between heir-apparent Hillary Clinton and insurgent challenger Bernie Sanders has everyone riveted and quite a few excited. Who would have thought that a self-described socialist from Vermont would give the former first lady, former senator, and former secretary of state a run for her money? With hindsight, of course, everyone has a theory about why a Sanders surge was inevitable. Wall Street has recovered from the Great Recession, but Main Street hasn’t. People are tired of the Clintons and their real or alleged abuses over three decades...