Ruy Teixeira is the author or co-author of ten books and a prolific writer on politics in America. In this episode, Teixeira, who identifies as a Democrat, talks about Joe Manchin’s retirement from the U.S. Senate, the 2024 presidential election, why he thinks Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, how his party got captured by climate change activists and “cultural radicalism,” and what the party needs to do to restore its appeal to working-class voters. (Recorded November 10, 2023.) 

Episode Transcript

0:01 – Robert Bryce

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Power Hungry podcast. I’m Robert Bryce. On this podcast, we talk about energy, power, innovation, and politics, and we’re going to get a heavy dose of politics today with a return guest appearing for a second time, Ruy Teixeira.


0:34 – Ruy

Thanks for having me,


0:35 – Ruy

Robert. It’s always a gas to talk to you, to use a fossil fuel term.


0:42 – Robert Bryce

Now, you’re the co-author of a new book that has just been released with John Judas called Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. Now, you also have some other credits, the co-editor at Liberal Patriot on Substack, if I’m remembering correctly. But you’ve been on the podcast, so you know guests introduce themselves. So I’ve given the title of your new book, and we’re going to talk about that. But imagine no one knows anything about you.


1:10 – Robert Bryce

You’ve arrived somewhere, you don’t know anyone, and you’re asked to introduce yourself in 60 seconds or less. Please, introduce yourself.


1:16 – Ruy

Yeah, okay. Well, I’m Rui Teixeira. I’m a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. I contribute columns to the Washington Post, and I’m politics editor of this wonderful sub-stack, The Liberal Patriot. And I specialize in studying American political behavior, American political coalitions. And I’m particularly interested in the issue of How did we get the electoral coalitions we have today? Why do they seem to be at a stalemate? And what could be driving us forward at this point?


1:47 – Ruy

What are the possible futures that American politics has? And what does that all mean for ordinary citizens? So that’s what I try to study. And occasionally, I think I even come up with some answers.


2:00 – Robert Bryce

Well, good. Well, let’s talk about those answers. So your book asks a question.


2:04 – Robert Bryce

So this is the natural question for me to ask at the outset. Where have all the Democrats gone?


2:12 – Ruy

Well, I think in the simplest possible terms, a lot of what our book is about is tracing the evolution of the Democratic Party from the late part of the 20th century to where we are today. And a running theme, demographically at least, sort of detachment of the working class from the Democratic Party. In other words, over time, the Democratic Party becomes less and less of a working class party and more and more of a party dominated by college educated professionals and the like, So we have a couple of different parts of the book.


2:46 – Ruy

The first part we call The Great Divide, which is about how the economy of the United States evolved in a certain way in the late 20th century that wound up basically you know, really negatively impacting, if not destroying, a lot of communities where working-class people lived. And there was a general disjuncture between the fate of working-class voters in that late 20th century development and that of the more educated, affluent part of the population, particularly those who lived in dynamic metropolitan areas we called ideopolises.


3:20 – Ruy

So, and that connects to another theme of the Great Divide, which isn’t just about class, it’s about geography. A lot of areas of the country really do get left behind. There’s vastly different economic fates for areas that are dependent on extractive resource extraction, on farming, old industries that are sort of leaving the country or dying. And I think what happens is While you can’t blame the Democrats entirely for all these developments, obviously, some of it was going to happen anyway.


3:50 – Ruy

They nevertheless bought into a number of policies around trade, around deregulation, and a number of other things. Particularly sort of crowned by the China shock of the early 2000s, that were perceived by these working class voters, particularly white working class voters as being inimical to their interests. That Democrats didn’t really have their back anymore in terms of their sort of actual economic welfare. And I think. That. That-.


4:15 – Robert Bryce

So. If I, So if I can interrupt, I mean, the one word that comes to mind when you’re talking about this is NAFTA, right? That this is one of the, you know, the key trade agreement that As I think about working class people, that’s one of the things they point to. Is that correct? You.


4:31 – Ruy

Yes, no, that’s absolutely correct. It’s not a coincidence that Trump would refer to this when he ran in 2016, as well as the WTO session, and the general idea of bad trade deals. That’s what you get from the Democrats, bad trade deals. They don’t care about your jobs. They don’t care about what happens to your community. They’re mostly concerned with their own economic welfare and the cities that they live in. And they could give a good gosh darn about you people in flyover country who’ve been hurt by these bad trade deals.


4:59 – Ruy

They’re elitists. Um, you know, they’re unleashing immigration, which is further depressing the wages of workers and so on and so forth So again democrats become complicit in that economic model. We were one way to think about it as sort of a soft neoliberalism if the Republican party was more of a hard neoliberalism A democrat’s more of a soft neoliberalism trying to redistribute some of the resources And output of the of the economy at least to make things they wanted to compensate the losers But they were very accepting of the fact that we’re losers and they weren’t really going to do or try to do very much about it.


5:33 – Ruy

And then the second part of the book we call cultural radicalism, where I think one thing that additionally drives working class voters away from the Democrats is how the Democrats evolve in the 21st century away from sort of a commitment to basic values of fairness and opportunity and anti-discrimination and tolerance. To a much more aggressive radicalism around issues of race and gender that spills into policy areas like crime and immigration, where, you know, we can’t really tamp down an immigration too much, that would be xenophobic.


6:06 – Ruy

We can’t really, you know, sort of commit ourselves to law and order because that has disparate impact, besides the police are brutal and terrible, and maybe we should just go to the police altogether. So a lot of boutique ideas come out of the campuses and sort of instantiate themselves in wide sectors of the Democratic Party. And importantly, as we discussed in the book, the shadow party, which the penumbra of advocacy organizations, nonprofits, foundations, academia, and so on that surround and the media, good chunks of the media, which basically sing from that songbook and have a big effect.


6:41 – Ruy

On how Democrats think of themselves and the priorities they have, and the way they’re always looking over their shoulder, if I don’t do or say the right thing, even if I don’t use exactly the right language, they’ll come down on me like a ton of bricks in social media. Is, you know, has a really,


6:58 – Ruy

Really big influence on how the Democratic Party thinks of itself, of its priorities, and the voters to whom it responds. So, you know, you have this evolution of the white working class in particular out of the Democratic Party. But as a result of all these developments, by the time we get to the late teens and our current situation, non-white working-class voters, Hispanic working-class voters, Black working-class voters, are actually starting to bail out as well. They’re voting their ideology, which is much more conservative than the Democrats, and they’ve lost faith in them over a long period of time as the sort of the purveyors of prosperity.


6:32 – Ruy

So that’s a problem. But for the college-educated people who are doing better economically and have a series of social issue priorities that They actually feel very strongly about it. They want the Democrats to push. None of this is a problem. But it is a problem for working class voters.


6:50 – Robert Bryce

And those voters you just talked about, the college-educated liberals, they live in the cities. And I want to explore that a little bit, because I think it’s really important. And it’s something that I see myself, because I spend a fair amount of time in rural America and talking to rural electric cooperatives. I’m going to Kearney, Nebraska in a couple of weeks, talking to the Nebraska Electric Co-op there, right? But those, you mentioned flyover country, overwhelmingly Republican, right?


7:18 – Robert Bryce

Overwhelmingly the last few elections, Trump won, what was it, more than 3,000 counties. And whereas the Democrats concentrate their efforts and their people, where they raise their money is in the cities. So it’s class, it’s geography, it’s racial, it’s wokeism, I guess would be the catch-all for if I was going to, you know, one word for cultural radicalism, it’s this whole idea of wokeism. It’s also around, you talk a lot in the book about energy as well. And I’m going to just repeat what you wrote in the first part of the book.


7:57 – Robert Bryce

You said this book is about why those white, the working class voters who used to be the lifeblood of the Democratic Party, this book is about why they are abandoning the party and why it matters. And you refer a lot to the New Deal as well, and back to that. But let me ask this question because it’s the other one that occurs to me as we’re just getting started. So you identify as a Democrat.


8:20 – Ruy

I do.


8:22 – Robert Bryce

But that party identification in general is declining, right? Aren’t more voters identifying themselves as independents rather than members of the Democrats or the Republicans?


8:33 – Ruy

Yeah, that has been true over time. I mean, it’s not changing a lot right now, but that has been a big sea change in the last half century, how many voters choose to identify themselves as independent rather than partisans of one of the parties. But one thing political science research has typically shown is that even though most independents actually lean toward one or the other party when pushed, And their voting behavior is, you know, comports with that. They generally do tend to vote mostly Democratic or mostly Republican.


10:04 – Ruy

But nevertheless, it is of significance that they’re uncomfortable enough with a party identification that they choose not to have one. And that does reflect the ways in which ordinary voters have become detached from and don’t love any particular party. In fact, there’s a whole stream of political science research, Robert, which basically says what we’re driven now by is not partisanship, but negative partisanship. In other words, if I’m a Democrat, it’s mostly because I hate the Republicans.


10:34 – Ruy

If I’m a Republican, it’s mostly because I hate the Democrats. So I do think that explains a lot about where Americans are today and their attitude toward the parties and why so many choose to be independent.


10:45 – Robert Bryce

Well, as you’re saying that, I’m wondering then, OK, because I believe what you’ve just said, and this disaffection of voters. And that’s my standard line when I’m speaking. And I’m critical of a lot of the energy policies that are being promulgated into the Biden crowd. And I was no fan of Donald Trump because I just, as my mother said, my late mother said, president has to be a gentleman. Donald Trump was not a gentleman, right?


11:07 – Ruy

I think we could safely say that. Yeah. You’re on solid ground.


11:12 – Robert Bryce

You’re on solid ground. But I’d say I’m not a Republican. I’m not a Democrat. I am. I’m disgusted. And I am disgusted.


11:18 – Ruy

You and tens of millions of other voters.


11:21 – Robert Bryce

So that’s a long intro into then. So if you have more disgusted voters, more independent voters, then does it doesn’t it make the the individual let’s just talk about the presidency for a moment that that that personality then becomes more important than the party. And this is, I’m going to lead this because now we have the whole presidential sweepstakes in 2024 have all been scrambled now with Joe Manchin just announcing his resignation from the Senate, possibly third. Party, Jill Stein running as a third party candidate, Robert running as a third party candidate.


11:53 – Robert Bryce

I mean, this is unprecedented in the modern era that I can recall, maybe back to 1968, where things were less kind of, you know, the parties were more scrambled. I don’t, you know, I don’t know. But let me ask that. Does this disintegration or the lack of affiliation or wanting a desire for affiliation with a party? Does it make that personality more important? Because I mean, Trump is really he’s kind of this cult of personality that is created. Is that does that rhyme with you? Or what’s your how you see the sweepstakes now?


12:22 – Ruy

Well, I think, yeah, it’s true that given people’s lack of reverence for any particular any of the parties, even the ones they might feel they’re affiliated with, it does become quite important how the presidential candidate appears to people, as you say, what their personality is, what emotional reaction they evoke, what broad themes they’re going to put forward and how that seems to resonate with their personality as a candidate. So, I mean, Trump is a perfect example of that.


12:49 – Ruy

I mean, he, you know, instantiated a lot of the hatred people had toward the elites of both parties. He embodied it. He lived it. He was authentic in that sense. And I think that’s going to be his secret sauce, so to speak, in 2024, when he presumably will be the nominee again of the Republicans. He’s going to appeal to people at that level, and it’s going to make him hard to beat. And Biden, on the other hand, I mean, his personality, such as it is, seems to be of a doddering old grandfather.


13:21 – Ruy

And that’s not exactly what most people are probably looking for. So it’s more the case they’re going to vote for Biden. Partly, they may like some of the things the administration. Hass. Done,


13:31 – Robert Bryce

Because they can’t. Stand.


13:33 – Ruy

But They. Frig. And hate Trump.


13:33 – Robert Bryce

The, The part, Yeah.


13:35 – Ruy

And they think the Republicans are some sort of semi-fascist party. And so they’re going to pull the lever for Biden. But it’s not like they’re attracted to his dynamic personality, not at all.


13:47 – Robert Bryce

And would you call that the politics of rejection? Or what was it? What did you say? Was their vote the opposite of negative voting? What was. What did you. Negative. Partisanship.


13:53 – Ruy

Negative. Partisanship. Negative. Part will be alive and well in this election. And to some extent, the candidates are going to try to play on that as best they can. Biden will sort of emphasize how awful and quasi-fascist the Republicans are, and they want to take away abortion rights and so on. And Trump will talk about how terrible the Democrats are and how they want to make you drive an electric vehicle to get to something that’s consistent with the themes of this podcast. In general, don’t give a crap about you working class people.


14:25 – Ruy

And they just, you know, they have all these great programs and they just cause inflation. Look at how the economy worked under my watch was much better. You know, Democrats are terrible. Elitists. And Let’s. Get. Ridd. Of them.


14:35 – Robert Bryce

  1. Didn’t get you. I. Didn’t. Get. You. Any. I didn’t get you any wars. There weren’t any major wars.


14:39 – Ruy

Yeah, I know. It was like great. Some people are now arguing, you know, Trump will have the nostalgia vote. Yeah, in a very short term sense, you know, so. Thanks. For. Great. Under. Trump.


14:50 – Robert Bryce

Let me. Hit you. With. One. Quick, Let me just hit you with one quick point on the EV thing, because this is to me one of the most interesting, among the most interesting pieces of research that I’ve seen lately when it comes to the issue of automobiles. And I wrote about this right after the third quarter where Ford announced their, they lost. Thousand. Dollars. On every. Car they saw every ev. They. Yes, right. Exactly. But there’s this amazing Cal Berkeley report that showed that half, roughly half of all the EVs sold in America go into 20 counties, and they are all among the most heavily Democratic counties in America.


15:29 – Robert Bryce

The EV is an ideology mobile. Right? You know, that it’s a, it’s a, it’s a simple, it’s a symbol of partisanship.


15:07 – Ruy

Yeah, I saw. That, Yeah, Remarkable. By. Making it up in volume, right? Now that is a lovely stat. I had not heard that one.


15:37 – Robert Bryce

Now, I know very few Republicans that own, I think, who are Republicans who drive EVs, but we just thought, well, one, I mean, it’s remarkable on its, on the, on its face, right? That many of these counties are in California, duh, right? More than half of that 20, right, in the top destinations for EVs are in California. Well, that, that makes sense. There are, by the way, 29 times more EVs per capita in California than they’re on mis than they are in Mississippi. But what does it say about the automakers that they would spend these tens of billions of dollars?


16:03 – Ruy

Uh-huh. OK.


16:08 – Robert Bryce

I mean, don’t they do market research? I mean, do they not know their customer?


16:13 – Ruy

It’s an interesting question. I mean, I do feel they were somewhat dragooned into it. And of course, there was money being splashed around to incentivize them to do that.


16:23 – Ruy

But they may have felt that it was inevitable in the sense that not only were they going to be encouraged to do this, incentivized to do this, but policy was moving in such a way that it would essentially force everybody to get an electric vehicle.


16:39 – Ruy

They were going to make ICE cars so expensive that, in fact, EVs would be competitive with them. And basically, they were going to make it much harder to own an ICE car, much easier to own an EV. And that was the bet they took. And I think now many of them are starting to wonder if this is like The right approach that ice cars, in fact, would be with us for a lot longer than we thought a lot of consumers are going to continue to prefer them. There are huge problems with both the price and convenience of and people friggin hate being forced.


17:12 – Ruy

To buy a given car, you know, consumers like choice. You know, I mean, what are we doing? Going back to like Ford, Henry Ford, who said you can have any color you want in a Model T so.


17:22 – Robert Bryce

Long as it’s black.


17:24 – Ruy

People really detest being pushed into buying one consumer product rather than another by government mandates, fiat incentives, what have you. And they especially hate being told you will love an electric vehicle when in fact they don’t. You know, I mean, so there’s.


17:41 – Robert Bryce

Maybe that’s and maybe that’s, as you say it, I’m thinking, well, maybe that’s why the Republican voters are saying, well, I’m not going to do that, right? You know, there’s too much government here. And I don’t, you know, this is just pure speculation. I’m just spitballing as you’re saying that, but it’s that’s, yeah,


17:53 – Ruy

It’s become culturized. The whole EV thing. And The concept that EVs are so wonderful,


17:57 – Robert Bryce

There you go.


18:01 – Ruy

So clearly the superior product that you could, sort of get over that culturized nature of vehicle choice at this point and basically have this sort of wave exponential adoption of EVs that would push out ICE cars to the point where you could get rid of them by 2030 or 2035. It’s just ridiculous. I mean, I think that, I mean, but this, this, I think this just shows Robert to some extent how the whole debate around climate around EVs, around renewables, around batteries, you name it.


18:33 – Ruy

It’s all become culturized. And to some extent, what you choose to believe and the policies you choose to push are very much determined by your almost cultural outlook on the issue of global warming and energy transition. So everybody who’s like a hardcore democratic liberal has to love EVs. They have to. It’s. Come.


18:52 – Robert Bryce

Well, and This touches.


18:53 – Ruy

With a party card.


18:54 – Robert Bryce

And this touches on the essay you published earlier this year and was when your first appearance on the podcast, and I think your headline, was it really good when you said the working class isn’t down with the energy transition, right?


19:06 – Ruy

With the Cli,


19:07 – Robert Bryce



19:07 – Ruy

With the green transition,


19:08 – Ruy

That’s right.


19:09 – Robert Bryce

Okay, so let’s come back to that. Because I have a number of notes on the climate and energy stuff that I want to come back to. But let’s focus today’s November 10. And we’re almost exactly a year away from the presidential election now in 2024. And the journal, the Wall Street Journal today, has a headline that’s on page A4 about worries persist over Biden candidacy.


19:32 – Robert Bryce

And one of the lines in here that was, I thought, well, they must know I’m talking to you today. And it quotes Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman from New Jersey, a Democrat. She says, quote, Democrats are on the right page as it relates to the needs and desires of our families and our citizens. It’s just a matter of connecting our substance with our narrative. Which seems to be the gist of what you’re talking about right here.


19:57 – Ruy

I want.


19:58 – Ruy

I want. Some of what she’s smoking,


19:58 – Robert Bryce

But the


20:00 – Ruy

You know? I mean, that’s just ridiculous. This is a story Democrats like to tell to themselves and the compliant media. It’s kind of like, God, we’re just so great. Our policies are just so wonderful. And the Only reason,


20:13 – Robert Bryce

But people. Just don’t, They just don’t understand. This.


20:15 – Ruy

Only. We just haven’t like got the right narrative, the right message. And it’s all that disinformation and misinformation that’s spread by Fox News. I call it the Fox News fallacy, right? If the conservatives are saying something about X, about our wonderful policies, there can’t possibly be anything to it. It must be all made up. And our job is just to deny there’s any truth to it and continue to soldier on pushing whatever policy or rhetoric or point of view that is being criticized and that, importantly, voters don’t seem very interested in.


20:47 – Ruy

And I think the Bidenomics thing is a perfect example of this, right, Robert? I mean, I don’t know when they’re going to give up on this thing, but they decided to package the Biden approach to the economy, the so-called investments, the way the economy had progressed, the tight labor market. They thought they could basically take how the economy has evolved and the policies have evolved under Biden, package them under the name Bidenomics, and convince people that, you know, that was the message.


21:15 – Ruy

This is, we have a new approach to the economy. Trust us, you’re gonna love it. You really love it now, even though you don’t realize it. And it’s been a big, fat failure. I mean, people do not like Bidenomics to the extent they have heard the term. They associate it with a lot of things they don’t like about the Biden economy. And they’re just not very happy about the way the economy has progressed under Biden. They tend to rate Trump, the economy under Trump before the pandemic, significantly higher.


21:41 – Ruy

It doesn’t seem, make much sense to like take something voters are really unhappy about it, and then identify it even more strongly with yourself as a, you know, presumed presidential candidate for 2024. It almost seems like political malpractice. But they did it, and I think they’re, you know, they’re eventually going to have to give up on it and basically going to run on abortion and democracy the way I see it. I mean, these are the two loaded stars for the Democrats.


22:06 – Robert Bryce

Say that again, they’re going to run on what?


22:08 – Ruy

Abortion rights and democracy, you know, how we’re a micro step away from fascism and the Republicans are election deniers. And if Trump gets in, he’ll basically transform the country into Hungary or something.


22:22 – Robert Bryce

Don’t never mind what Stacey Abrams did in Georgia, continually trying to undermine the results of the election.


22:28 – Ruy



22:28 – Ruy

That’s different.


22:31 – Robert Bryce

Okay, so give me the odds. What are your odds? We’re a year out from the election. What are the odds that Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee a year from now? Because the gist of this, one of the points of this article in the journal today, it ends with some unnamed candidate here, or unnamed politician saying,


22:49 – Robert Bryce

I don’t think anyone is prepared to push him out, said one DNC member. Well, okay. At some point, he may have no choice. In other words, saying that the Dems are ready to throw Biden overboard. Okay, so what are the odds, give me the give me your O over and under.


23:02 – Ruy

I think. The The odds that Biden,


23:03 – Robert Bryce

Or give. Me your.


23:06 – Ruy

Well, you’d have two possible methods for getting rid of him. One would be he’s forced slash dropped out, obviously. The other is he has a health problem, he keels over, whatever. So between those two things, I’d put the probability he’s not the Democratic nominee at like 5%. I just think he’s not gonna drop out. I mean, the signals are very clear. And I think he’s probably, able to remain ambulatory. For long enough to run in November of next year. So, so I am.


23:40 – Robert Bryce

Ambulatory, but not necessarily conscious or able to really figure out where he is or what day of the week it is we can walk around, but we’re not sure if he’s fully engaged mentally.


23:51 – Ruy

Yeah, well, you know, I think they can finesse that, you know, and I think, right, I just see no signals from Biden from his team from his campaign, from the democratic politicians who really count that he’s going to drop out or be forced out. I think they’re all in on Joe Biden. And in their defense, I mean, it would actually create a lot of difficulties for them if he did drop out. I mean, who’s the candidate? Kamala Harris? Think about the incredible bloody internecine warfare that will take place if Biden drops out and suddenly they have to have another candidate.



I mean, it would not be pretty. Yeah, Gavin Newsom is, in my mind, you know, not very electable because he’s sort of in personifies, embodies in one man, a lot of things that a lot of the country hates about the Democratic Party. So I don’t think he would be a good candidate, but he might be if Biden dropped out. So the risk averse thing is to stick with Biden.


24:27 – Robert Bryce

Because then Gavin Newsom is already there.


29:46 – Robert Bryce

An elite from California.


24:51 – Ruy

Therefore, I think they will stick with Biden. And arguably he’s, you know, the one man he could probably beat is Trump.


24:58 – Robert Bryce

Well, so, but let’s talk about what the possibilities are here because Again, we’re talking November 10th, we’re a year away from the election and Joe Manchin just announced he’s resigning from the Senate. And he has this kind of cagey rhetoric where he says an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today saying, I’m going to be traveling the country and, you know, wanting to reunite the country. So kind of sounds like a campaign, right? And then you’ve got.


25:20 – Ruy

No, he’s on, he’s on a listening tour. Don’t we all love a listening tour?


25:25 – Robert Bryce

And then you’ve got Jill Stein saying she’s going to run as a Green Party candidate.


25:30 – Robert Bryce

Then you have Robert who’s clearly running. Okay,


25:34 – Ruy

Hey, don’t forget brother Cornel West.


25:37 – Robert Bryce

So then okay, fair enough. So then that’s.


25:40 – Ruy

Brother Cornell.


25:41 – Robert Bryce

Okay, so fair enough. So okay, let’s but let’s be clear. So of those four, Cornell West and Jill Stein are the least recognizable and the least. Likely to.


25:50 – Ruy

Rfk. So we we don’t know that mansion or no labels in general will run a candidate.


25:55 – Robert Bryce

No, we don’t. We. Don’t. Know that. So. But Kennedy is definitely in he has enormous name recognition. He’s flaky on a whole lot of issues, including nuclear power and vaccines and, you know, a lot of other things. But, you know, but he’s in right. But so if we have a third party candidate, is this is is it possible that Robert is the new Ross Perot and we get, you know, a a plurality vote then or the possibility we get to the House of Representatives deciding the election in 2024? I mean, there are a whole lot of scenarios.


26:29 – Robert Bryce

Really weird.


26:56 – Ruy

I mean, Yes, We, We, we. Certainly suspect it could happen. There’s a lot of scenarios. I mean nothing could be ruled out. I think the possibility that um will actually to go to the house of representatives you’d have that one of these situations where some of these Non-major party candidates actually like take states. They actually have electoral votes that did not happen with perot I guess my anticipation is wouldn’t happen here. I do think that there’s a potential here for a third-party candidate, probably most plausibly RFK Jr., to get a pro-like percentage of the vote,


26:00 – Robert Bryce

15 or 15 or 18. Or something like, That.


27:02 – Ruy

And therefore hold. The Ds and the Rs below majority status in a lot of places, in fact, substantially below majority, as we saw in the 1992 presidential election, and that will sort of definitely roil our politics and so on, and it’ll certainly make for a lively race. But I do think that The potential of RFK Jr. Should not be underestimated. Yes, he’s got a lot of flaky positions, but most voters don’t know about most candidates’ positions, right? I mean, they vote more on, you know, as we were talking, personality, instinct, emotion, a general sense of what their leadership style is, some things they say they like, and some of the things they don’t like, they either aren’t aware of or they’re willing to discount.


27:45 – Ruy

And there’s an enormous amount of dissatisfaction with both parties and with Biden and Trump, right, in particular, as candidates. We know there’s a huge chunk of the electorate that doesn’t like either one of them. So if they don’t like either one of them, yes, I mean, most people typically in most situations will just choose the one they hate the least. But this is not a normal situation. And I do think that.


28:07 – Robert Bryce

Hate police. It’s like, Oh, I hate him. But I only hate him a little bit. I think, you know, what is the level of Beyond,


28:15 – Ruy

It’s. Real.


28:16 – Robert Bryce

Beyond loathing? My hatred is a seven instead of a nine, right? Right.


28:21 – Ruy

There you go. That’s how, I mean, you know, that’s the Downsian theory of democracy, right? You. Make the choice,


28:25 – Robert Bryce

Downs. In I’m sorry, what is that?


28:27 – Ruy

Oh, Anthony Downs, the theory of the median voter and so on. I mean, basically voters this assumes voters know the positions of candidates a lot more than they really do. But anyway, you would choose the voter who’s closest to you in ideological placement on your sort of,


28:44 – Robert Bryce

The candidates.


28:44 – Ruy

Your. Sort. Of,


28:44 – Robert Bryce

You. Be. The candidates.


28:45 – Ruy

Your policy space.


28:46 – Robert Bryce

You’ll vote for the candidate who’s closest to what you think you’re.


28:49 – Ruy

Right, so you position yourself in the center, and therefore you pick the voter, the candidate that’s closest to you at the center of your ideological distribution. And then in general, it follows that uh… Party should always be trying to get closer to the median voter that that they could maximize the vote share uh… But it has doesn’t have anything to do with liking or not liking it has to do with closeness.


29:11 – Robert Bryce

Well, let’s. Talk.


29:12 – Ruy

  1. Vote, I will vote against the candidate that’s farthest away from me. But that doesn’t mean I’m very close to the person I do vote for. And then the problem with that theory, of course, it’s a long discussion, is that that would imply parties move a lot faster to the center and are a lot more attentive to it than they really are. And that leaves out the role of ideology and party history and a lot of other things. In terms of how parties conduct themselves. But anyway, that’s not, I’m just saying that it’s not inconsistent with standard theories of democracy that you would vote for the candidate you hate the least.


29:45 – Robert Bryce

Well, so you mentioned these issues that the Democrats in 24 would run on abortion and democracy. And we just had the elections on just a few days ago in Kentucky, Ohio, and one other state, Virginia, wasn’t it?


30:00 – Ruy

And there was a referendum in Ohio.


30:03 – Robert Bryce

Right. And the Democrats won. I mean, they had pretty good showings. But the other wild card here is weed, right? You know, the marijuana. I’m from Oklahoma, right? I live in Texas. But Oklahoma, one of the reddest of the red states, effectively legalized weed. And I grew up in Tulsa. Now you go to Tulsa, there’s a weed store on not every corner, but on a lot of corners.


30:25 – Ruy

Is this a great country.


30:26 – Ruy

Or what?


30:29 – Robert Bryce

And the amount of illegal, the amount of mob controlled or organized crime weed that’s being grown in Oklahoma is just enormous. But that’s a whole other story.


30:38 – Robert Bryce

But those are the other, if you’re going to point to the wedge issues, right, around then that ones that define kind of broadly this divide between the Democrats and the Republicans, abortion, the fate of democracy, right? You know, the Trump is going to.


30:53 – Ruy

Those are. The Two big. Hm.


30:53 – Robert Bryce

The Fascists. Are going to intervene. Is we. The is we the other powerful motivator in getting people out to the polls?


31:00 – Ruy

I don’t think so. I mean, I think the public opinion has shifted dramatically on legalizing marijuana over time. And we’re now seeing the fruits of that. We’re seeing that come to pass in a lot of states. And I think it’s both an issue that’s popular, though, and an issue that’s relatively low salience. I don’t think it’s easy to get these referenda passed, but it’s not going to animate. It doesn’t animate voters in the same way that abortion rights does. It’s not going to have that much effect on on elections.


31:30 – Ruy

I do think we’re looking at a future where most states will have legalized marijuana, but I think abortion rights will continue to be very contentious. And I think the, the,


31:41 – Robert Bryce

And maybe the defining issue for the GOP and the Democrats?


31:47 – Ruy

Well, I don’t think the GOP wants it to be, but I think the Democrats do want it to be because it is, you know, they are basically, in the simplest possible terms, on the right side of public opinion. And if they can portray the Republicans as wanting to ban abortion entirely. That’s incredibly unpopular. And they successfully done that so far, to the point where, you know, and it’s not crazy, they can point to, oh, you know, the Republicans say they just want a 15 week limit, or they say they’ll leave it up to the states, or they say this, or they say that.


32:16 – Ruy

But you know what they’re like, you know, I mean, and there’s tons of people in the Republican Party, who are a very strong faction who really do want to ban abortion entirely. And I’m personally skeptical that they could ever get to that point. But the Democrats can gin up a lot of votes by telling people, you must not vote for the Republicans, because no matter what they say, I’m a moderate. Look what happened in Virginia, where the Democrats successfully, I think, sort of scabed off a Republican charge on the legislature.


32:46 – Ruy

A lot by talking about abortion, abortion, abortion. And Youngkin tried to finesse it by saying, well, yeah, we’re not we’re for we would like to see a 15-week limit on abortions with exceptions thereafter, which is an entirely reasonable position, which many people in Virginia support, and which is similar to that in a lot of other Western countries. But the Democrats messaged it as, don’t believe them, Once they get in power, they’re just going to take away abortion rights entirely.


33:14 – Ruy

And it pretty much worked. I mean, it wasn’t a tsunami election for the democrats it’s worth pointing out that the actual shifts that took place uh… In virginia were actually relatively small right back the uh… Republicans actually gained a senate seat they only lost a few house seats so it’s really it was a status quo election but obviously yonkin and the republicans hope to you know, sort of basically turn things in their favor in this sort of, which would have been a real achievement in a very relatively blue state like Virginia.


33:43 – Ruy

But one, you know, the reason why among probably the most important reason Democrats were able to hold it off was because of how they dealt with the abortion rights issues. So they feel it’s a gift that’s going to keep on giving. So they’re going to keep talking about it.


33:56 – Robert Bryce

And if it’s been successful, they’re going to use it again. So let’s talk about the other issue here that’s a divisive one, but you point out in the book that it polls actually very low in terms of, I’m trying to find the section here where you discuss it. Oh, right. You said that according to a 2022 Gallup poll I’m reading from your book, only 3% of respondents saw climate change as the quote, most important problem. The Pew survey that asked the public to rank what should be a top policy priority, climate change came in way behind strengthening the economy, reducing healthcare costs, dealing with the coronavirus, improving education, defending against terrorism, improving political system, reducing crime, and improving the job situation.


34:37 – Robert Bryce

It also trailed.


34:39 – Robert Bryce

Dealing with immigration, reducing the deficit, addressing the criminal justice system, dealing with the problems of poor people. That’s 12 issues in front of climate change. And yet this administration, and I am critical of them, because I think their climate, their energy policies have just been full on bonkers. I mean, just truly bonkers, especially from coming from the EPA. And I talk to people in the utility sector all the time. And they’re beside themselves looking at this, you know, these regulations that are being proposed by the EPA and say, they’re completely unrealistic, completely unachievable.


35:11 – Robert Bryce

Why have the Democrats, why is this administration staked so much of its political capital on that one issue, despite the fact that it’s not a big issue, not a really important issue for voters? Why is it that the president talks about this so much and the people in his administration?


35:30 – Ruy

Well, that’s an excellent question, and it is something one could scratch one’s head about. I mean, one funny thing about this, Robert, is if you listen to the green activists in and around the Democratic Party, They’re always going on about how the Democrats don’t take this seriously enough. We. Need. To. Move.


35:51 – Robert Bryce

And They’re. Not. Ruy and you. And another point you make in your book that they’re just not radical enough.


35:55 – Ruy

They’re not radical enough. They need to press the accelerator on this.


35:58 – Ruy

There’s no time left. You know, what is wrong with these Democrats? You know, the Biden administration, whomever, that they don’t move faster on this. And the fundamental truth of this, though, is exactly the opposite. They’re moving extremely fast relative to what public opinion really wants. It’s not a high-priority issue. People believe something like global warming exists and they’re sympathetic to renewables, but it’s not a super high-priority item for them, particularly for working-class voters.


36:28 – Ruy

So Basically, the reason we have the relatively aggressive policies of the Biden administration on energy issues and stuff connected to climate change is because these are elite issues and the Democrats are being driven by their own elites in this direction. To some extent, they’ve imbibed the ideology around the green transition and around climate change, and they’re committed to it. It’s a very high priority, high salience item, policy item for them. They’re committed.


36:55 – Robert Bryce

For the elites but for the elites but then is am I going to translate that right into in saying that that’s key for the fundraising because these are the people that they’re talking because that’s where you know, I you. Know,


37:06 – Ruy

They. Follow the money baby.


37:07 – Robert Bryce



37:08 – Ruy

I mean, it’s always important who’s given and why are they giving it and what are their priorities and there’s no question that the democratic party is very much affected by what some of their deep-pocketed donors and organizations are concerned with And yes, that for them, climate change is a huge issue. I mean, look at people like Tom Steyer and the like, I mean, they’re they’re big time donors. You look at the business, you know, his wife, Lorraine Powell Jobs. I mean, all these like incredibly rich people, Bloomberg for them.


37:38 – Ruy

It’s like giving and This. Is,


37:39 – Robert Bryce

They’re giving. And They’re giving. Hundreds and Of millions of dollars.


37:40 – Ruy

This is the Hundreds. This is the most important issue. Everything else pales in significance. So given that and given huge sectors of the Democratic Party’s white college-educated liberal base, for whom this is a super high-priority item, you can see that the Democratic Party and the shadow party that’s pushing it are in fact allowing climate change and the clean energy transition based around renewables to punch way above its weight relative to public opinion. So it’s relative to the median voter, relative to what voters are really concerned about.


38:14 – Ruy

So those organizations who are committed to this kind of approach to energy and climate change, they should be pathetically grateful that Democrats are doing what they’re doing, because they’re doing way more than people are really asking for.


38:27 – Robert Bryce

Let me let. Me,


38:28 – Ruy

And Yet. There. Seems.


38:28 – Robert Bryce

Let me, let. Me. Cite your numbers here because you say climate change here just a bit because I think this is an important part of your book and I want to talk about it a little bit more. You said climate change, I’m quoting again from the book and again my guest is Rui Teixeira, he’s the co-author with John Judas of a new book just published in the last few days called Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The soul of the party in the age of extremes. But here’s the key other key line in your book, you said climate change did came in sixth among college educated respondents, but it came in 14th among working class respondents.


39:01 – Robert Bryce

Well, having a very high salience in the Democratic Shadow Party, climate change has low salience for ordinary voters, particularly working class voters. And a lot of those working class voters, they’re in rural America, they’re driving F-150s, they’re driving Silverados, they’re driving Rams, they are never, never, never, never, never, never going to drive a Tesla.


39:19 – Ruy

Right, yeah, don’t hold your breath at that one. Yeah, no, the disjuncture between the views of the college-educated and working-class voters, and then, of course, even more so if you look at liberal college-educated voters and working-class voters. I mean, they’re like two different universes. The salience of this issue to them is so different, and the costs that they’re willing to pay are so different. Another example of this disjuncture is we asked a question about To deal with the problem of climate change, would you be willing to spend another dollar on your utility bills to help deal with this problem?


39:58 – Ruy

And then you go up to $10, $20. At $1. Most working class voters are still not very interested. And you get to like $10 and it’s like there’s almost nobody left, right? Whereas if you look at liberal college educated people, they’re willing to stay the course up to around 75 bucks. But that just shows you the differentiation between how people feel Uh about this issue and how committed they are to it and the costs they’re willing to pay for working class voters Because it’s a low salience issue the costs they’re willing to pay are small what they really want and you know Robert I know this is your mantra too.


40:36 – Ruy

They want cheap reliable and abundant energy. Full stop full stop. And the idea that you’re going to get all these working class voters on board with this costly energy transition, which they associate with higher costs, they associate with being forced to get an electric vehicle. It’s really like, it’s cloud cuckoo land. It just,


40:17 – Robert Bryce

Per month. Amen.


40:55 – Ruy

It’s really completely out of touch with where ordinary voters are coming from And I think you don’t just see in the Democratic Party, you see it in center left parties all over the world. So it’s,


41:06 – Ruy

I mean,


41:07 – Ruy

Look what’s happening in Germany.


41:08 – Ruy

I mean, it’s like wild.


41:10 – Robert Bryce

Well, or in the or in the UK. So, so are now. Okay,


41:15 – Robert Bryce

So here’s how I see it. So California is America’s Germany.


41:20 – Robert Bryce

Or it is America’s Europe, European state, right, where they’re following this same climate model. But it’s very clear that the European countries I mean, look at Rishi Sunak just a few weeks ago, backtracks on net zero and says, oh, we’re going to be realistic and pragmatic. Those were his words. And within that same week, the Tories, his party, went up in the polls by about four percentage points, right? So it is very clear that the political leaders in Europe are looking at the electorate and saying, ooh, we’re screwed on this if we keep pushing this cloud cuckoo land climate policy.


41:55 – Robert Bryce

And so they’re backtracking, it seems to me, as quickly as they can. Will the Democrats in California and more broadly here in the U.S., are they looking at that or do they think that’s not relevant to them? Because, you know, frankly, the U.S. Is in a much better position with in terms of energy, our natural gas costs a fifth of what it does in Europe. Is it is that they can afford to do this because we have such cheap energy? Are they going to ultimately look at Europe and say, we can’t do that?


42:21 – Robert Bryce

Or how do you see or do you see the Democrats backpedaling on this in the way that the European leaders have?


42:29 – Ruy

I don’t think it’s going to happen yet. I mean, I think at this point, it really is the latter thing you were mentioning. They tend to discount it. They think it’s not relevant to us, and they’re probably not following it that closely. I mean, I think a fair reading of what’s gone on in Europe suggests some of the underlying problems with the green transition, as it’s been pursued by most of these center-left parties, that when it comes to its effect on consumers and workers, if they feel they’re not benefiting from it, they’re going to be mad.


42:57 – Ruy

That’s not their priority. That’s not what they wake up in the morning and think about, even if, you know, sort of your standard issue center left activist type who’s college educated and was, you know, sort of hangs around in a university town. That may be what they think about. That’s not what working class people think about. So I think the signals are very clear from Europe at this point. It’s very clear from what’s happening in Germany, which is like a total, I was going to use a bad word here, but I won’t.


43:23 – Ruy

A total mess.


43:25 – Robert Bryce

Train. Train. Wreck? Disaster?


43:25 – Ruy

You know. What. It’s a train wreck, where the mainstream parties that are committed to this in the Traffic Light Coalition, their support is falling off and the AFD, the far right party, is gaining strength. By the day, you are asking for a backlash against these policies. And it hasn’t hit here yet in a big way, because the costs are not that high yet.


43:48 – Robert Bryce

I I think that’s a good. That’s.


43:49 – Ruy

And I think.


43:50 – Robert Bryce

And the price of gasoline is falling, right? When the price of gasoline was going up, Biden was talking about it. Now, oil prices are coming down.


43:57 – Robert Bryce

We don’t hear about it at all.


43:59 – Ruy

But I think that you can bet that as the costs of it go up and become more apparent and, you know, people feel, for example, their gas stoves or their ice cars are being taken away. I mean, it will not be pretty and the Democrats will be hurt by this, but right now it hasn’t hurt them enough. So they’re not going to change their tune yet.


44:16 – Robert Bryce



44:18 – Ruy

But I think if they process the signals correctly from Europe, they would be worried about it a lot more than they are. Because yes, these societies are different. Their energy situation is different. But some of the basic political calculus is the same.


44:32 – Robert Bryce

Gotcha. You think Joe Manchin is going to run for president?


44:36 – Ruy

Well, I actually know exactly what Joe Manchin is going to do, Robert. But if I told you, I’d have to kill you. So.


44:43 – Robert Bryce

He was my hero for about a week,


44:46 – Robert Bryce

About a week. And about before the Inflation Reduction Act. I thought, man, this guy’s going to stand strong. He’s a principled Democrat. He knows his base. He knows what’s happening. And I think his feel on the energy question, because that’s what I pay a lot of attention to, is the right one. And he’s from an energy-producing state. But okay,


44:46 – Ruy

A We.


45:10 – Ruy



45:10 – Robert Bryce

So. Let’s. Let.


45:10 – Ruy

So. I. Don’t know, to answer your question. I don’t know. I mean, I think nobody knows. I think this listening tour thing is, you know, certainly potential, sort of You.


45:18 – Robert Bryce

Let me ask. This, do you like, do you like him? Do you think he’s politically, I mean, what do you think of him as a politician and his kind of his, his, his platform, because he is a Democrat.


45:28 – Ruy

I’ve always felt the animus toward Joe Manchin was really unjustified, given the state that he’s from and the role he’s played in allowing the Democrats to push the legislation they want. The Democrats shouldn’t have been upset about Joe Manchin. Their goal should have been two, three many Joe Manchins. They need politicians like that from relatively conservative states. You can actually get elected in that state. They need moderate Democrats and need a lot more of them.


45:53 – Robert Bryce

They need moderate Democrats. They need moderate democrats.


45:59 – Ruy

So mansion is someone who they should have been pathetically grateful to have not someone who was attacked mercilessly by the shadow party and the liberal elements Of the democrats it was just foolish and now look he’s gone I mean, he basically walked the plank in the ira for them. And what kind of thanks did he get? They didn’t even pass his permitting reform put much effort into it, right? I mean,


46:19 – Robert Bryce

And He. Mentioned,


46:19 – Ruy

  1. Know. There’s. Basically, they betrayed him.


46:20 – Robert Bryce

And he mentioned that in the piece in the wall street journal today.


46:25 – Ruy

You know, he’s, you know, it’s questionable, you know, was it the right thing for him to do? Was it not? I guess it depends on your views of the policies involved. But in terms of the raw politics of it for Joe Manchin, it was a disaster.


46:39 – Robert Bryce

Well, from, I don’t have, you know, I know a few people in Washington, but what I’ve heard was that that vote on the Inflation Reduction Act, that he was just under enormous pressure and the pressure. With that,


46:49 – Ruy

He was.


46:50 – Robert Bryce

You know, that they put on him was weeks long and that it was just continuous. And so. That he finally knuckled under because he had to live there,


46:54 – Ruy



46:57 – Robert Bryce

Right? And that that was just a calculus that he had to make at that time. But he, you know, he’s still bitter about the permitting issue, which, and it appears the Mountain Valley pipeline has actually gone forward, and they’re going to pressurize, I met a guy a few weeks ago that that line is going to come into service. So, you know, maybe he didn’t die for nothing or didn’t take the walk the plank for nothing. But That,


47:18 – Ruy

Take. The bullet.


47:19 – Robert Bryce

But you got one, you got one pipeline. Maybe just one, right, for all of that incoming fire that he took.


47:27 – Ruy

Well, and it does represent a fundamental problem with the Democrats’ whole approach to energy and, you know, the other investments they’ve made in infrastructure and what have you. A lot of the problem in the country is not how much money is allocated to X. It’s your ability to do what needs to be done with X. So permitting reform, deregulating a lot of the environmental stuff, the whole problem with NEPA probably should just be blown up. These are all things that would be very helpful in terms of moving the country forward to a better place economically and a more dynamic growth path.


48:02 – Ruy

But you can’t do it so long as it’s so frigging hard to build stuff. And that applies, obviously, even to the renewables, as we know, Robert,


48:09 – Ruy

That people are so concerned with. If you want renewables to be a bigger part of the the energy infrastructure, you got to be able to build this stuff and build it fast. If you want high speed transmission, high voltage transmission lines, by God, you need to make it a lot easier to do it, and so on and so forth. It’s just down the line, whatever your priority is in terms of what America should put money into. The fact that we have such a dysfunctional regulatory structure is a huge problem.


48:34 – Ruy

And the fact Democrats are reluctant to tackle it shows some of their fundamental problems with their economic model.


48:41 – Robert Bryce

Well, let’s talk about the house for just a minute. The I met a guy was in California, and it was a conference and he was a he was a lobbyist, a strategist in Nevada. And he made a point that I’ve heard before. And it’s been, you know, he brought it up in a way that was interesting. But he talked about the how few in the house of how few seats in the House of Representatives are actually competitive. And I forgot what his exact number was, but out of four hundred thirty five right there are only, he said, a handful, like maybe 20 or 30 that are actually, in terms of the margin of votes that determine whether they’re Republican or Democrat, are less than a handful of percentage points.


49:23 – Robert Bryce

So that comes back to this idea around gerrymandering and about the balkanization of the politics, and you talked about politicians coming to the center. But if we have these gerrymandered districts, the gold for the way that Democrats or Republicans are going to get elected in these heavily gerrymandered districts is going to be appealing to the extremes in their parties. So I guess the question is, Can you talk about that? The, the, the, the, the relative, how? How many House Rep how many seats in the House of Representatives are truly at risk or actually in play in any given two-year cycle?


50:04 – Robert Bryce

Is that number going up? Is it going down? And why?


50:07 – Ruy

Well, my argument would be that geographic polarization and the distribution of Democratic and Republican voters is more important than Jerry Mandarin at this point in terms of the amount of competitive districts. Once you have people sorted so so clearly into buckets, depending on where they live. Rural vote used to be pretty competitive, the ex-urban vote. Lots of things were more competitive in the past than they are today. So no matter how you draw the districts, leaving aside the question of gerrymandering, it’s gonna produce less competitive districts than we used to have.


50:45 – Ruy

Now that could be accentuated by gerrymandering,


51:47 – Ruy

But the underlying cause-. They’ve sorted themselves. Well, not only just sorted, but the places where these voters live, I mean, they may have lived there for a long time, but basically the area has become very red or very blue over time. Yes, some of that could be in migration. Some of that could just be shifts in political preference. But the polarization is very clear and very obvious and is a fundamental driver of the lack of competitive seats. So if we want more competitive seats, it’s not enough just to say we should do less gerrymandering.


51:18 – Ruy

You actually have to have the parties competing more in the areas in which they’re weak. And therefore, they have to be the kind of party that can’t compete. Like, for example, the Democrats want to compete more in rural areas. They have to run the type of candidates and have the kind of party image, as it were, that wouldn’t be complete anathema to those voters. And the same thing goes for the Republicans in more urbanized areas. So to me, that’s the fundamental problem, that the parties need to, in a sense, move to the center if they want to compete in some of these areas where they’re not already strong.


51:49 – Robert Bryce

Because the voters are naturally sorting themselves?


51:49 – Robert Bryce

Yeah, well, that’s interesting. I, you know, we talked with this guy, and I’ve forgotten his name, I wanted to look up his card again, because he just had some good numbers in terms of the pointing out the how small with a very small number of seats in the house are actually competitive. And this is from 2030 years ago that I remember there was a statistic that the reelection rates in the House of Representatives similar to the old poet, so we had Politburo, right? If you’re in the house, you got your seat you’re likely to be able to be reelected unless you really stink or you, you know, Or you’re in a district that really is competitive in terms.


52:24 – Robert Bryce

Of The distribution. That. Was. That. Was. Edwin Edwards,


52:20 – Ruy

Or, A Live. Boy or a dead woman, wasn’t that, in bed, wasn’t that the Old. Eddie. Eddie. Edwards. Life?


52:30 – Robert Bryce

The former Louisiana governor. They ask. You,


52:32 – Ruy

All. Right.


52:32 – Robert Bryce

Governor, youre going to get reelected? And he says, Yes, I’m unless I get caught with a live boy or a dead girl.


52:37 – Ruy

Right. So it’s a little bit like that, yeah, for sure. The competency was quite powerful.


52:43 – Ruy

So another important thing, though, in. Equation… Rob.


52:44 – Robert Bryce

This. Bad story.


52:45 – Robert Bryce

You shouldn’t have brought that up. That’s just a nasty.


52:52 – Ruy

But, I mean, in terms of this problem of polarization and, you know, sort of the lack of competitive seats, another thing that’s contributing to it now is sort of intraparty, right? If you want to be a more moderate candidate in some of these areas, you have to worry about being primary, right? To the extent that was not true. A long time ago. But now it’s quite possible for incumbent Democrats or incumbent Republicans to get primary by someone who’s too far to their left or part of the right.


53:20 – Ruy

And that makes them afraid to take more moderate positions, which in turn affects the party as a whole and increases polarization. So…


53:28 – Robert Bryce

And the moderate positions would be anyone where you’re compromising with the other party, right? Where you’re doing a deal where you’re voting for a bill that the other party, other side wants. Doing more horse trading.


53:37 – Ruy

Yeah, doing a deal and also… More horse trading, and also in terms of cultural issues that have to do with sort of how people view your party and the way people view the values of your party, you would be willing to compromise on those because you realize that’s closer to the center of gravity where the electorate is. So you don’t have to insist trans women or women. You don’t have to insist that America is a white supremacist society. You don’t have to insist that the police need to be defunded or radically altered.


54:08 – Ruy

You don’t have to be afraid to say, I’m for law and order and violent criminals should be put in jail. They don’t be afraid of any of that stuff, because that’s where voters are. But they are afraid of that stuff, because if they do say it, if they do start to cut a profile that’s much more moderate and toward the center of these issues, they’re terrified that someone’s going to pop up and primary them, driven by, in the Democrats’ case, the left activist base of the party.


54:35 – Robert Bryce

Well, when you say that, so just back to Manchin, I’m just curious what you think about how much of his and you know, you, you know, these policy, these states pretty well. Do you think he was looking at the polls to in West Virginia and realizing that Republicans are going to come after him hammer and tongs, and it’s going to be a very. Reelection effort for him to if he tried to, if he tried to be reelected?


54:51 – Ruy

Absolutely. Yeah, no, I think it was going to be a tough rode a hoe anyway. I mean, yes, people kind of like Manchin in West Virginia. He is the incumbent. He’s overperformed relative to the Democratic Party for so many years. But he looked at the polls. He looked at who’s going to run against him, probably Jim Justice, a very strong candidate. And, you know, looked at how the IRA went down in West Virginia. I don’t think so. I’m out of here. You know, there’s no way I can win. Maybe I’m the only guy who could win, but it’s pretty unlikely, so I’m gone.


56:27 – Ruy

So essentially what this means at this point is the Democrats are already down one seat in the Senate before the election campaign really starts. There’s no friggin’ way any other candidate has a chance of winning that seat from the Democratic Party.


56:42 – Robert Bryce

So let’s talk, let’s back up and or just zoom out rather. So you’ve said you’re a Democrat and reading the concluding section of your book, you talk and you talk about Franklin Roosevelt a lot in the book. How would you describe yourself? Are you an FDR Democrat, a new dealer? How, how would you? Because you refer at the end of the book about Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights, support for unions, labor law reform, support for campaign finance, to eliminate dark money. By the way, there’s a whole lot.


57:13 – Robert Bryce

I mean, hundreds of millions of dollars of dark money in the climate discussion.


57:17 – Ruy

Yes, absolutely.


57:18 – Robert Bryce

The support for corporate taxation of income and wealth. Are you an FDR democrat? I think our friend Joe Kotkin describes himself as what is John Lindsay democrat? I’ve forgotten what he you know, he’s very specific kind of Id.


57:28 – Ruy



57:29 – Robert Bryce

How do you know.


57:30 – Ruy

I could say I could say I’m a social democrat. I could say if you’re familiar with the UK situation that my politics are a little bit similar to blue labor.


57:39 – Robert Bryce

And what does that mean? What is a Social. Democratic.


57:40 – Ruy

Well, That is. A Communist. Part of the Labor Party that thinks the Labor Party needs to move drastically to the center on cultural issues that it’s too driven by college educated people in towns like Oxford and Cambridge and London town. And, you know, they need to adopt a program that centered around you know, uplift for working in middle class people in the country and move away from this whole commitment to a green transition. So it’s basically saying, you know, in the UK context, labor needs to get back to, in a sense, its roots.


58:12 – Ruy

And certainly that’s what we’re saying here. We want the Democratic Party gets back to its roots as the party of the working and middle class, a party of universal uplift, a party of cultural moderation. And that was really the FDR brand. And Democrats, by and large, have done best when they could plausibly present themselves as a party of the common man and woman, of the ordinary American. And the problem, a problem, a key problem with the Democrats today is they’re not the party of the common man and woman.


58:39 – Robert Bryce

And how much of that, to go back to our discussion earlier, is that their money is coming from the elites, right? That, you know, remember Joe Biden, and I wrote about this on my subject, that, where did he announce this $900 million loan to Angola to build solar panels in Angola? It was at a dinner for the League of Conservation Voters, which is an elect Democrats NGO. I mean, I get their emails every day, oh, the Republicans are going to sell us out. But that So is it that the part of the reason the Democratic Party lost its way is because it’s now depending so much on the oligarchs to use Joel Kotkin’s line for the money to do the campaigning that that key wedge issue because I’ve heard you just that’s an identifiable wedge issue now in addition to abortion is the energy and climate stuff.


59:29 – Robert Bryce

Is this so? Is that, you said, punching above their weight. So I’m just reading back to you what we’ve talked about, that the climate and energy stuff has swayed the Democratic Party too far to this extreme. Is that a fair criticism or am I hearing you correctly?


59:43 – Ruy

I mean, I think money and sort of stuff related to like who’s really got the economic clout and who’s really supportive of the party in that sense is very important. I think it shouldn’t be denied that in terms of raw votes, there’s a lot more votes out there among the college educated than there used to be. Democrats now dominate the white college educated vote. And that wasn’t, that’s only been true for like the last 10 or 15 years. So the base of the party has changed in important ways.


1:00:09 – Ruy

And those people do not only vote for the Democrats, but to use that phrase, they punch above their weight in terms of their influence and the accolades they provide to the party. And finally, we should never forget the role of this shadow party, this penumbra of organizations, all of whom sing from the same hymn book, and which are hugely influential in the Democratic Party and are committed to a series of positions that are basically disjoint with those of ordinary working class voters.


1:00:36 – Ruy

So if you want to be the party of the common man and woman of the ordinary American, it’s really difficult to do that. When the shadow party and this big voter group and money is all pushing you in a different direction. And it will take, you know, a conscious effort on the part of Democrats, because they read the market signals and think, we’re topped out, we’re not going to get any farther, we’re too vulnerable to the other side. We really have to make a change in how we present ourselves to voters.


1:01:02 – Ruy

And we really have to become once again, the party of universal uplift and cultural moderation. Now, I’m not holding my breath on that, but I think that would be a good idea.


1:01:12 – Robert Bryce

Okay, so I know you’re a Democrat, but let me just ask you, say, okay, well, I’ve just hired you and I’ve written you a big fat check, really, and now you’re my political consultant and you’re working for the Republicans now.


1:01:23 – Robert Bryce

What’s your messaging? What then how do you beat how do you beat Biden? What do you do if it’s Biden or whoever? What’s the message that the Republicans would use, the messaging they would use then to prevail in 2024? How would you craft their messaging? Uh, Remember I wrote you a big check. It’s a Big. Check.


1:01:38 – Ruy

Well, I. Write. A Big check Well, look, I mean, I think you probably wasted your money because I think they already know what to do Which is to hammer him on the economy and by dynamics when all the things people don’t.


1:01:50 – Robert Bryce



1:01:51 – Ruy

Inflation, you know Some of this energy stuff which is connected to economic issues where they really are out in left field relative to the median voter Um, and I think you you basically they’re going to go after an immigration people hate the job the Biden administration has done immigration. They hate the job Democrats have done on crime. So they’re going to hit all those issues and hit them pretty hard. However, if I was the consultant and I was giving advice, you know, Donald Trump doesn’t really take advice, I guess.


1:02:18 – Ruy

But, you know, there has to be, I think, a fairly serious move toward the center in terms of how they present themselves on issues like abortion, on issues of democracy, quote, unquote, and in general about the whole cultural affect of the Republican Party. We’re not extreme. We’re the party of the ordinary American. We’re not scary. We don’t want to take away democracy. We don’t want to take away abortion rights. We just want things to go back to normal, which I think is a great line because remember how Biden ran in 2020 successfully.


1:02:52 – Ruy

He was the party of normality. He said he was going to restore normality. We’re going to get rid of the Trump administration. We’re going to take care of COVID. We’re going to get the economy. Firing on all cylinders and people said, Hey, that’s great. You know, they didn’t know that much necessarily about all of Biden’s policy planks, but they said, we need to change. We’d love to have America be normal again. And the problem is, and why Biden in some ways by Biden is so vulnerable is we never got back to normal as far as most voters are concerned.


1:03:20 – Ruy

So I think you know, if the Republicans really wanted to clean up on Biden, they would present themselves in that way and try to turn down the temperature on at least some of these issues, and most of all on these issues connected to the Democrat strength, which is on abortion rights, the democracy. I mean, I think that,


1:03:37 – Robert Bryce

Well, and it’s. Also,


1:03:38 – Ruy

  1. Think that’s hard for Trump to do,


1:03:39 – Ruy

But I think that, you know, that would be a good approach.


1:03:43 – Robert Bryce

Well, I’m talking with, you know, I told you, I, spend a lot of time and you know, who do I hope to represent and what I do and what I write about it’s working class people, the people who turn wrenches, I love those people. I mean, the people who were have names on their shirts, those who I, you know, those are the underrepresented people in America. And I think you. Know,


1:04:00 – Ruy



1:04:00 – Robert Bryce

If I were, you know, just to feedback, I think how I’d paraphrase what you’re saying there, inflation energy, you know, that the Republicans have in fact, I think, become the party of the working class. They’ve switched places, you know, and I think in many cases, and that was one of the reasons explains Trump. The working class look at Trump and they realize,


1:04:18 – Robert Bryce

Yeah, he’s speaking that what we see, right, he’s saying the things we know to be true in our lives, and that that explains a lot of his.


1:04:25 – Ruy

And he may be a goofball, he may be pretty weird, he shouldn’t say some of the things he says, but at least he’s sort of on our side and he’s not a baloney artist like a lot of the Democrats. So I think that’ll be, you know, that’ll be an important part of this coming election as well. I mean, the thing you mentioned about the Republicans being the party of the working class, I’ll just throw in a little bit of data here. At the polls that are coming out today. If you look at recent results from elections, you see this over and over again.


1:04:54 – Ruy

Democrats have like plus 10, 15, 20 among college educated voters. Republicans are plus 10, 15, 20 among working class voters. So just in a pure nose catting sense, if we’re going to say who’s the party of the working class in the United States today, it’s definitely the Republicans. The data are very clear.


1:04:46 – Robert Bryce

Sure. I think that’s definitely, I mean, based on what I see, what I, you know, the people that I talk to and, you know, and I travel a lot and that’s what I hear. That’s what I see is that Trump knows what we’re about. And then despite the fact that Trump doesn’t, you know, has never turned a wrench in his life, that he knows how the, the, he knows how to speak to them. So just a last couple of questions here,


1:05:40 – Robert Bryce

Ruy. And my guest again has been Rui Teixeira. My new friend, we have a mutual friend, Joel Kotkin, who introduced us. He’s the co-author with John Judas of the new book, Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. So you have a new book out, and I know you’ve been promoting it,


1:05:55 – Robert Bryce

But what are you reading? What are the books that you are looking at these days?


1:06:00 – Ruy

Well, I read pretty eclectically. Right now I’m reading a biography of Gorbachev.


1:06:06 – Ruy

By William Taubman. It’s very interesting. I’m reading actually relevant to this podcast, I guess. It’s a very interesting book I’m trying to. It’s a very shortt book, but very good and punchy. Can’t remember the guy’s name. It’s called Climate Isn’t Everything. Do you know this book?


1:06:21 – Robert Bryce

No, I don’t.


1:06:22 – Ruy

It’s written by some Brit. It’s very good. And it’s basically trying to understand and explain what he calls climatism, how a certain ideology has has sort of taken, sort of taken hold of a lot of people. Is it and why,


1:06:36 – Robert Bryce

Actually, I have heard. Of,


1:06:37 – Ruy



1:06:37 – Robert Bryce

I have heard of this book. Yeah, but go ahead.


1:06:39 – Ruy

Yeah, so yeah, no, it’s really good because he just basically marches through all the different parts of climatism and sort of a little bit of the backstory about how they came to be and how they, in a sense, became this overarching ideology, religion, whatever you want to call it, that actually is the lens through which so many people, and particularly influential people, have big big loudspeakers, big mouthpieces tend to talk these days. And, you know, you were mentioning the New York Times at the beginning of the podcast.


1:07:08 – Ruy

New York Times is definitely under the sway of climatism. You know, I mean, the amount of articles they have about the effects of climate change and so on and so forth, and how awful it is, and how basically every problem can be looked through the lens of climate change, which is part of what the gentleman says in the book. It’s like we have gotten to the point where significant sectors of the intelligentsia and of the commentariat and so on, and a lot of people who influence political parties, they’re quite willing to look at any problem that takes place, no matter how trivial, from the standpoint of it’s related to climate change.


1:07:44 – Ruy

You would think we never had problems until there was climate change. But of course, that’s completely ludicrous. And when you, you start unpacking it, it’s, it’s, it’s apparent how ludicrous it is. So, and that’s certainly part of the theme of the climate chapter in our book, is we try to point out how, you know, this sort of quasi-religion has taken a hold of the Democratic Party and does affect the way they look at, you know, pretty much all issues. But you know, there’s no there there.


1:08:09 – Ruy

This is not actually a correct view of the world, and not particularly scientific, and isn’t even consistent with the IPCC reports, right? So it’s just, it’s a bizarre situation we find us in, but it is hegemonic within the Democratic Party. They are, in fact, apostles of climatism.


1:08:26 – Robert Bryce

Yeah, I think that that is an unfortunate hegemonic within the Democratic Party. I think that’s, that is an accurate description. So last question, Ruy, what gives you hope?


1:08:37 – Ruy

Well, it gives me hope. I might have said this before, actually, is that parties are imperfectly and over time, rational actors, and they do respond to market signals. They do want to win. And there’s a lot of untapped votes out there for a party that does move to the center. There is an untapped market for this sort of you know, a party that’s economically liberal-ish and culturally moderate. So those votes are out there, and the signals over time will be read, or hopefully will be read.


1:09:15 – Ruy

But I actually don’t rule out that the Republicans could do the same thing. So I guess my face, such as it is, is that this stalemate can’t go on forever, that eventually one or the other parties will figure out what would actually capture the imagination of most working and middle class voters in the United States, and they’ll do it, and they’ll be successful. Now, I’m not holding my breath on that, and it ain’t going to happen in 2024. But we’ll see what happens thereafter. And, you know, it may take some time.


1:09:43 – Ruy

I mean, in a way, our book is trying to explain how did we get to this point? Why is there this stalemate? How did the Democrats blow the opportunities they have? We’re trying to explain that. We have no prediction, and we don’t even have a detailed prescription policy-wise or whatever. We’re not campaign consultants to try to explain how the Democrats could get to that place. We’re simply recommending they might want to think about it.


1:10:06 – Robert Bryce

We didn’t get here overnight. We’re not going to change it overnight.


1:10:09 – Ruy



1:10:11 – Robert Bryce

Well, let’s end there, then. Ruy, it’s been great fun. Again, my guest, Rui Teixeira, my new friend, Rui Teixeira. He’s the co-author with John Judas of the book, Where Have All the Democrats Gone? The Soul of the Party in the Age of Extremes. Rudy, it’s always great to talk. Thanks again for coming back on the Power Hungry podcast.


1:10:28 – Ruy

Thanks for having me. I love the Power Hungry podcast. Everybody should listen to it.


1:10:31 – Robert Bryce

Amen, brother. Say that again. One more time. Go ahead. Look out,


1:10:34 – Ruy

Everybody should listen to it.


1:10:37 – Robert Bryce

Joe Rogan.


1:10:38 – Ruy

There you go. He’s coming for you.


1:10:41 – Robert Bryce

All right. Great. Well, thanks again, Ruy. Thanks to all of you out there in podcast land.


1:10:45 – Robert Bryce

Make sure and tune in to the next episode of the Power Hungry podcast. Until then, see you.

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