Interesting observation from his recent New York Times column:
Populism thrives on a zero-sum mind-set. The central story that populists tell is: They are out to destroy us. Populist leaders invariably inflame ethnic bigotry to mobilize their own supporters.
America’s populist in chief, Donald Trump, exemplifies this mentality. Trump grew up in a zero-sum world. In the world of New York real estate, there’s a fixed amount of land. Trump didn’t have to invent a new concept, just screw the other side. In 2017, the Vox writer Dylan Matthews and his colleagues read all of Trump’s books on business and politics, and concluded that zero-sum thinking is the core of his mind-set. “You hear lots of people say that a great deal is when both sides win,” Trump and his co-author wrote in “Think Big and Kick Ass.” “That is a bunch of crap. In a great deal you win — not the other side. You crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself.”
MAGA is the zero-sum concept in political form. What’s good for immigrants is bad for the American-born. What’s good for Black people is bad for whites. Trade deals are exploitation. Our NATO allies are out to screw us. Every day for Trump is an Us/Them dominance game.
Zero-sum thinking is surging on the left as well. A generation of college students has been raised on the dogma that life is a contest between groups — oppressor versus oppressed, colonizers versus colonized.
Read the rest here. The column is actually about what Joe Biden needs to do to win in 2024, but I found this “zero-sum” analysis interesting.