Dan Pfeiffer on Joe Biden, beating Trump, and saving democracy


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Before becoming the co-host of Pod Save America, Dan Pfeiffer spent most of his adult life in Democratic Party politics, which included serving as White House communications director for President Barack Obama. But in his new book Un-Trumping America, the former operative levels some sharp criticism toward the party he came of political age in.

Contrary to the rhetoric of the leading Democratic presidential candidate, Pfeiffer doesn’t think of Donald Trump as the source of our current social and political ills, and he doesn’t believe that beating Trump will bring about a return to “normalcy.” For Pfeiffer, Trump is a symptom of much deeper forces in our politics — forces that will continue to proliferate unless Democrats get serious about, among other things, genuine structural reform. Among the things we discuss:

- Pfeiffer’s view that Donald Trump is the favorite in 2020

- Why the core divide in the Democratic Party isn’t progressive vs. moderate

- The flaws in both Sanders and Biden’s theories of institutional change

- The way Obama looms over the Democratic primary — perhaps even more than Trump does

- The case for, and against, filibuster reform

- Pfeiffer’s biggest regret from inside the Obama administration

- What working with Joe Biden is like

- Why the Obama White House didn’t rally around Biden in 2016

- The damage the political consultant class does to Democrats

- What the left got wrong about the Democratic Party

- Why Democrats need to prioritize democracy itself


Ezra's profile of Joe Biden

Book recommendations:

Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

The Known World by Edward P. Jones

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

New to the show? Want to check out Ezra's favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner's guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere)

The “Why We’re Polarized” tour continues, with events in Austin, Nashville, Chicago, and Greenville. Go to WhyWerePolarized.com for the full schedule!

Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com


Engineer - Cynthia Gil

Producer/Editor - Jeff Geld

Researcher - Roge Karma

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