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What separates Obama-era liberalism from Sanders-style democratic socialism? What are the fights splitting and transforming the Democratic Party actually about?

This is a conversation I’ve wanted to have for a while, in part because I often find myself simultaneously in these debates and confused by them. Sometimes, arguments that are framed as deep ideological disagreements seem to actually be about differing political judgments about what public and political institutions will permit. But perhaps those political judgments are just ideology posing as pragmatism. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole here.

Elizabeth Bruenig is an opinion columnist at the Washington Post, co-host of the podcast The Bruenigs, and a thoughtful champion of the democratic socialist worldview. I asked her on the show to help me trace the boundaries of this debate and highlight where the divides really are.

This is a conversation about ideology, but it’s also about the limits of persuasion, whether civility is a weapon wielded by the powerful, what Medicare-for-all means, the left’s definition of freedom, the contradictions of being “socially liberal and fiscally responsible,” Howard Schultz, and much more.

Book Recommendations:

The Confessions of Saint Augustine by Saint Augustine

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Malaise of Modernity by Charles Taylor

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