A recent history of the Democratic party that identifies the chronic errors that lead Dem politicians to act like also-rans even when they're in power—and urgently argues against a return to the status quo.
In Chaotic Neutral, political scientist Ed Burmila tracks the evolution (or devolution) of the Democratic Party—from the New Deal era to the pandemic, when, even in the midst of a genuine national crisis, the Dems could not manage to pass such sweeping progressive legislation.
Why did the Democrats initially abandon their principles, and why haven’t they been able to grasp that they need a new strategy in the face of decades of diminishing returns? To offer guidance, Burmila identifies ten recurring patterns of behavior and key aspects of their approach to politics that have left the Dems politically inept and in the position of permanent also-rans—even when they win! If we are going to be stuck with a two-party system for the foreseeable future, Burmila argues, then the Democratic Party must become an effective counterweight to the Republicans' death cult. Breaking free of these pathologies of learned helplessness and attachment to the status quo is the only way to get there.
Chaotic Neutral captures not only the Democrats' calculated shift toward neoliberalism and the center, but also the Republican party's response of moving further right, in the knowledge that the Dems will continue trying to meet them in the middle. It also explains that the Democrats' refusal to acknowledge this new political reality has brought them increasingly out of touch as the stakes climb higher. To understand the possibilities for their survival, we need to consider how and why the Democrats got here, and where they must go next.