New York Times bestselling author and Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. sounds the alarm in Code Red, calling for an alliance between progressives and moderates to seize the moment and restore hope to America’s future for the 2020 presidential election.
As part of this endeavor, [Dionee Jr.] has often chided the right for its mounting extremism, but he never wrote it off. Which is why Dionne’s latest book should send our alarm bells shrieking. Though written in the same patient, even soothing, voice as his earlier works, the narrowed scope of Code Red shows how much his view of politics has changed. The right barely factors into this new bridge-building project. Conservatives are, for all intents and purposes, a lost cause ... while his past calls for political unity seem to have failed, there’s reason to hope this one might succeed ... This is an exquisitely timed book, coming just at the moment of the Democrats’ quadrennial splintering ... yet, it’s not at all clear moderates and progressives need to be reconciled ... a worthwhile exploration of the shared goals (and shared enemies) that unite moderates and progressives. But more than that, it is a sharp reminder that the common ground on which Dionne built his career has been badly eroded, with little prospect that it will soon be restored.
Dionne’s foundational assertion is important: the present moment offers an 'opportunity we dare not miss' for progressives and moderates ... Dionne stages an intervention that tactfully surveys the viewpoints of the mutually infuriating quarrelers. This is of course a slippery undertaking. Big Tent politics encompasses class politics, movements of recognition and representation, moderation and radicalism, socialism and neoliberalism, cults of personality, boldly structural and incremental theories of change, good ideas and terrible ones. Dionne is at pains to not take sides—or, rather, to acknowledge the discrete merits of all sides. But his bottom line, it’s fair to say, is that moderates must accept that their conservative assumptions have been overtaken by events, and that the Democratic policy terrain has been mostly staked out by progressives ... Dionne presents a valid analysis of liberal divisions by reference to a left–right spectrum, but viewing them as a matter of generational divides illuminates something important about the perils facing the Democratic Party.
... fair-minded and optimistic ... [Dionne Jr.] incisively details the factors that led to Trumpism ... Dionne’s eagerness to drill down into voter demographics and look at the 2018 and 2016 electorates from so many statistical angles may cause some readers to lose the thread of his central arguments, and his gradualist approach is more pragmatic than inspiring. Still, Democrats closely following the early stages of the 2020 presidential race will find this reasonable, evidence-based account to be a valuable source of information.