Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.
Early in Timothy Shenk’s absorbing and provocative recent book, Realigners: Partisan Hacks, Political Visionaries, and the Struggle to Rule American Democracy, he describes it as “a biography of American democracy told through its majorities, and the people who made them.” Looking at American figures from Martin Van Buren to Charles Sumner to Mark Hanna to Phyllis Schlafly and Barack Obama, the book attempts to define the character and conditions necessary for fashioning a durable electoral majority in those moments when existing partisan and coalitional structures were reshuffled and articulated anew. In other words: a realignment.
In this thrilling conversation, Matt, Sam, and Tim talk through the implications of past realignments and argue about whether something similar is possible today.
Sources and further reading:
Timothy Shenk, Realigners: Partisan Hacks, Political Visionaries, and the Struggle to Rule American Democracy, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (2022)
Stephen Skowronek, The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton, Harvard University Press (1993)
Sam Adler-Bell, The Radical Young Intellectuals Who Want to Take Over the American Right, The New Republic (2021)