At the end of each episode of The Ezra Klein Show, guests are asked to name three books they think the audience should read. Recommendations from past guests can be found at vox.com/EzraKleinShow.
In his new book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment, Stanford political scientist Francis Fukuyama makes the case that identity politics creates more division and bitterness. On The Ezra Klein Show this week, Fukuyama discusses the history of identity politics, its impact on economic and racial anxieties, and people whose identities are seen as simply politics.
Fukuyama’s recommendations for books “to better understand how identity politics has operated in America or in other societies” argue that our identities are much more tribal that we’d like to believe.
1) Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels
Political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels argue against the “folk view of democracy: that we are all these rational, NPR-listening voters that have opinions about policy issues and will vote for representatives that best reflect our policy preferences.” Their research suggests that we instead pick a political party — a team — and support whatever policies our team advocates for.
2) The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Jonathan Haidt’s book on moral psychology argues essentially the same thing — that our political decisions are much less rational than we’d like to believe — but “broadens the scope of view not just to politics but to cognitive activity in general.” Fukuyama says, “It’s very depressing if you actually believe in democracy.”