French Economist Thomas Piketty Has Counterintuitive Idea For How Democrats Can Retake America

By Martin Cizmar
The Raw Story (3/27/18)

Would Bernie Sanders have won? French economist Thomas Piketty seems to think so.

The author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a New York Times best-seller and the most-bought book in the history of Harvard University Press, has published a paper that uses exit polling data to argue that embracing economic populism would power the left toward huge electoral wins.

The paper is called “Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict” and it’s a book-length 174 pages with references and charts.

Piketty says that both parties now appeal to elites in America, with high-education elites liking the left, while wealthy elites support the right—though he points out that this is changing in the era of Trump, with polling showing that wealthy suburbs are now a danger zone for Republicans.

It’s dense stuff—not the sort of thing the “low education, low income voters” he writes about are likely to read:

“I argue that this structural evolution can contribute to explain rising inequality and the lack of democratic response to it, as well as the rise of “populism” (as low education, low income voters might feel abandoned). I also discuss the origins of this transformation (rise of globalization/migration cleavage, and/or educational expansion per se) as well as future prospects: “multiple-elite” stabilization; complete realignment of the party system along a “globalists” (high-education, high-income) vs “nativists” (low-education, low-income) cleavage; return to class-based redistributive
conflict (either from an internationalist or nativist perspective).”

But, if you parse it, his main argument, allowing for much complexity in the specifics of each race, is that “the cleavages structures in the 2016 presidential election” would have been different “had Sanders won the Democratic primaries against Clinton.” (This is the only time Bernie is mentioned by name.)

Piketty’s conclusion is that moving the Democratic party further to the left, at least when it comes to economics, would help it win. …

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