Liberals need to center race and class in political conversations, says Roosevelt Institute’s CEO and president

Felicia Wong, the president and CEO of the think tank Roosevelt Institute, says the problem with a populist approach is that it doesn’t convince people to be racially progressive, and it leaves the topic of race to be discussed with Republicans.

After ignoring the topic of race for a long time, there is a new debate emerging in Democratic political circles: How should liberals deal with the topic of race in politics? Should they lean into it, and push hard for not only racial justice but a pervasive racial consciousness, potentially shaping a nation dedicated to equality? Or should Democrats ignore race, and instead favor a colorblind approach and a populist agenda, to attract more white voters?

That’s been a debate inside the Democratic Party for some time, but many now believe that Democrats not only need to talk about race, but also marry it with issues of class.

I do think progress is possible, I don’t think it’s always easy.” — Felicia Wong, president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute


Listen: What a winning political message looks like when race is centered in the conversation.

 


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Felicia Wong is the president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a New York think tank. She believes that liberals need to center race and class in their message in order to win over a larger voting bloc. Wong says the problem with a populist approach is that it doesn’t convince people to be racially progressive, and it leaves the topic of race to be discussed with Republicans. “That is what underlies most of the MAGA (Make American Great Again) movement, that is what underlies much of conservative politics today, keeping America white again,” she says.

Wong says sometimes discussing race is an uphill battle, but many people — particularly nonwhite minorities and young people — are gravitating toward these discussions. “I do think progress is possible, I don’t think it’s always easy,” says Wong.

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