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

"This Is Not Who We Are." Or Is It?

“This is not who we are.” How many times have you heard that said since Donald Trump became president? Candidates say it . Ex-candidates say it . Pundits say it . It’s as much a desperate plea as it is an assertion. This is not who we are...is it? The question of who, exactly, we are as a country is something we grapple with in just about every presidential election, though in some elections more than others. In 2008, Democrats took Barack Obama’s victory as an affirmation that America was the kind of country they wanted it to be: multiethnic and multiracial, open and inclusive, forward-looking and forward-thinking. But right away, Republicans said, “No. That is not who we are.” They expressed their loathing for Obama in a hundred ways, but at its center was the belief that he was not Us—not born here, not a Christian like he claimed, with a worldview “so outside our comprehension,” in Newt Gingrich’s words , that he could...

Donald Trump's Race-Based Re-Election Campaign

Donald Trump does not play 12-dimensional chess. He does not say or do outrageous things out of a shrewd and carefully constructed strategy to distract you from some other outrageous thing he’s saying or doing. When he makes you appalled, more likely than not it’s because he demonstrated his true beliefs and feelings, whether it benefits him politically or not. And while you’re probably tired of people saying “Oh my god did you see what Trump tweeted,” over the weekend he spat out such a rancid piece of poison that it’s worth taking note of — more than anything else because it’s a preview of what’s to come. Behold: So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly...... — Donald J. Trump (@...

How Florida 2000 Created Our Modern Dysfunction

If back in 2001 I had told you that 18 years later the country would be living with the most corrupt president anyone could remember while his administration and Republicans in Congress steamrolled over every norm of politics and governing they could find, while Democrats meekly debated whether it would seem rude to impeach him, you would have said, “So I take it not much has changed?” That’s because the seeds of what we endure today, particularly with regard to the limitlessly cynical view of politics embodied in the GOP, were sown in November and December of 2000, in Florida. To understand where we are now, you have to understand what happened then and the way that debacle reverberates through our system. I decided to revisit Florida 2000 in part because of the release of Leon Neyfakh’s vivid new podcast “Fiasco,” in which he gives it the same examination he gave to Watergate and the Lewinsky scandal. To hear those events recounted and the...

What Democrats Don't Get About the Republican Party

In 2018, Florida voters did something revolutionary, passing an amendment to the state constitution to restore voting rights to people with felony records who had served their time. By an overwhelming 65-35 margin, the electorate decided to get rid of this vestige of Jim Crow , one of many laws passed to keep African Americans from the ballot box. One might have thought that was the end of the story, but it most certainly was not. And that’s the story I want to focus on: One in which every advance Democrats make is met by unceasing attempts to undermine it, undo it, reverse it, destroy it. Those attempts are a key strategy employed by today’s Republican Party, something their opponents may not fully understand. When that Florida initiative passed, Republicans did not say, “Oh well, looks like our ongoing attempt to restrict voting rights suffered a setback. We’ll just have to persuade the voters that our vision is the best one.” Instead, they immediately...

Is Joe Biden the Wrong Man at the Wrong Time?

In early 2015, it seemed obvious to most political observers ( including me ) that Jeb Bush was the most likely Republican presidential nominee. He may not have been heart-stoppingly charismatic, but he was raising lots of money, had extensive support within the party, and was just the kind of safe, established figure Republicans usually nominate. And who was going to beat him— a pipsqueak like Scott Walker or Marco Rubio? Not too likely. Yet his campaign sputtered and faltered, even before Donald Trump entered the race and made clear what Republican voters were really looking for. One of the lessons is that in presidential politics, you can never tell what a candidate has in them until they jump into the rushing river of the race. There is nothing quite like running for president. It challenges you in ways no other endeavor can, not even running for another major office: your stamina, your fortitude, your ability to think on your feet, your capacity to deal with crises, your...

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