Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation.


Recent Articles

The Racism Obstacle

There are limits to how effectively a progressive populist economics can woo working-class whites.

Bethany Baker/The Coos Bay World via AP
wwc_homepage_logo-3.jpg Neither will like the comparison, but it’s inescapable. Since the 2016 presidential election, Senator Bernie Sanders sounds like an earlier leader who wanted to overhaul the Democratic Party after a devastating loss: former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. Almost 30 years ago, Clinton, like Sanders, struggled to find a way to win back the White House by attracting more white non-college educated voters, the backbone of the New Deal coalition, many of whom had left the party at least partly out of discomfort with the dominance of women and people of color in the Democratic coalition. Clinton promoted his humble origins, and so does Sanders. “I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to where I came from,” Sanders declared in a speech soon after the shattering election loss to Donald Trump. At this point, the two men’s paths diverge. Where Bill Clinton embraced a neoliberal “...

Our Battle Scars

The Cause tells how liberals gave America the best of the 20th century. So why is it so hard to be one?

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It’s taken me almost my entire life to come out of the closet as a liberal. In college at the end of the 1970s, I was no revolutionary, but I thought of myself as a radical. Working at “the independent socialist newspaper” In These Times in the 1980s, I tried on actual socialism, with some relief at having a name for what I thought I believed. Later I became a progressive, when that term came to stand for the Paul Wellstone-Howard Dean “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” In middle age, I’ve belatedly found solace and realism in calling myself a liberal. Eric Alterman and Kevin Mattson’s The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama explains why. The book also makes clear why it took me so long to come to terms with my sober, modest, occasionally enervating political identity. Alterman and Mattson remind us how much liberalism has accomplished over the past 75 years: protecting workers; advancing...