E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne Jr. is the author, most recently, of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right. He is a Washington Post columnist, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, and a professor at Georgetown University.

Recent Articles

Is There Such a Thing as Progressive Nationalism?

In his most recent books, John Judis makes the case that there is—and that by indiscriminately embracing globalism, many liberals helped create nationalism’s virulent Trumpian version. 

The Nationalist Revival: Trade, Immigration, and the Revolt Against Globalization By John B. Judis Columbia Global Reports This article appears in the Spring 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Most liberals have a problem with nationalism. John Judis has a problem with the problem liberals have with nationalism. This dynamic—or dialectic, if you prefer—makes Judis’s latest book, The Nationalist Revival , essential reading. There are important lessons here for progressives. But there is also more to liberal unease with the new nationalism than Judis may acknowledge. Through his long career in progressive journalism, Judis has made a habit of seeing things that others were missing. In the early 1990s, he took Ross Perot’s movement seriously from the start. Through excellent reporting and listening, he came to understand the coherence of this middle-class, middle-of-the-road, and largely secular movement. He also saw early on how...

Leading from the Left

For Ted Kennedy, political leadership meant moving public opinion—not chasing after an elusive center. 

(Photo: AP/Jae C. Hong)
(Photo: AP/Jae C. Hong) Senator Edward Kennedy speaks during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. This book review appears in the Winter 2016 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Lion of the Senate: When Ted Kennedy Rallied the Democrats in a GOP Congress By Nick Littlefield and David Nexon Simon & Shuster When the Republicans under Newt Gingrich swept to victory in the 1994 elections, one exception to the tide was Edward M. Kennedy. On what was a terrible day for Democrats almost everywhere else, Kennedy weathered the toughest challenge of his career from a Republican businessman named Mitt Romney. Kennedy was always attentive to his Massachusetts political base, but he had never had to work harder in a re-election campaign. He took out a million-dollar personal loan on his house in Virginia and rallied back not by trimming or pretending to be who he wasn’t, but by running as, well, Ted Kennedy. At a packed rally in Boston’s Faneuil...

A Radical Pope

Francis has challenged the Catholic Church. How much can he change it?

(Photo: Jeffrey Bruno)
This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . The philosopher Michael Walzer argues that a passionate approach to politics is always risky, but its hazards “cannot be avoided altogether, unless one gives up the hope for great achievements.” This quest for greatness ends, he adds, “when conviction and passion, reason and enthusiasm, are radically split and when this dichotomy is locked onto the dichotomy of the holding center and the chaos of dissolution.” Whether or not Pope Francis has read Walzer, this passage offers a key to the success of his papacy and to the astonishing popularity he enjoys around the globe. The pope is not conflicted: His convictions are harnessed to a powerful passion for a merciful God, and he reasons his way to an infectious enthusiasm for life, love, and justice. But even more...

The Politics of the New Middle America

In 2010, disaffected voters didn't embrace the Republican vision. They looked in vain for the Democratic one.

(Flickr/The White House's photostream)
Among the poll findings that bombarded us after the 2010 elections, three are of overwhelming importance. First, the age composition of the electorate changed radically. In 2008, 18 percent of voters were under 30 and 16 percent were over 65. In 2010, only 12 percent were under 30, while 21 percent were over 65. Not surprisingly, 2010's older electorate was also more conservative. Second, Democrats lost enormous ground among white working-class voters. In 2010, Democrats lost white working-class voters by 30 points. In 2006 and 2008, they lost them by only 10 points. Third, Republicans won control of the House of Representatives because many voters who didn't really like the GOP voted for its candidates anyway. According to the major TV networks' combined exit poll, 52 percent of November voters had an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, yet 23 percent of this group voted for Republican House candidates. These are the quintessential disaffected voters, and they may be the key...

Practical Liberalism Redux

Like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Barack Obama is capable of being a pragmatic progressive.

Last October, after the economy's downward spiral became obvious, I closed an e-mail to a friend with the words: "I never thought my obsession with the 1930s would ever be relevant to my life." That obsession had many roots, not the least being that my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts, was a '30s kind of place with a '30s kind of culture, a '30s kind of economy, and '30s-style New Deal politics. But if there is a single person who inspired my fascination with an era, it is the historian William E. Leuchtenburg. I can't remember which of two inspiring high school history teachers, Jim Garman or Norm Hess, gave me Leuchtenburg's Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal: 1932–1940 . Rereading it recently, I was reminded of the excitement I felt at age 15 over the realization that a graceful writer could bring politics to life. Leuchtenburg's version of FDR launched my teenage journey toward a practical kind of liberalism. And my latest reading underscored the point that our...