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Nothing would do more to repair American politics than for the center right to regain power in the Republican coalition. But before that can happen, the center right needs to exist — it needs a theory of both policy and politics, one that would allow it to organize a new right if the Trumpist coalition ever collapses.

The Niskanen Center is a new Washington think tank started by refugees from the libertarian right who’ve decided to do exactly that. Will Wilkinson, Niskanen’s director of research, is one of them.

A former Ayn Rand devotee, philosophy grad student, and Cato Institute staffer, Wilkinson has come to believe, among other things, that the freest economies feature the biggest welfare states, that unchecked capitalism and unchecked democracy pose similar threats, and that polarization is a function of density and psychology. This is a podcast about those ideas, but also about whether a center right like this is actually possible, or whether it’s a doomed project that misunderstands conservative psychology from the outset.

Sometimes conversations go in very interesting directions you didn’t expect. This is one of those. I don’t want to spoil too much of it, but we could’ve, and perhaps should’ve, talked for twice as long. Enjoy!

Book recommendations:
Open Versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistributionby Christopher D. Johnston, Howard Lavine, and Christopher M. Federico
The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequalityby Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles
The New Geography of Jobsby Enrico Moretti



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