More Thoughts on Teixeira’s Move to AEI

Sometimes people just change jobs.

From the Politico piece on Run Teixeira’s exit from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and move to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) that was mentioned several times on the site yesterday:

Whether it’s Teixeira’s fault for being oversensitive to “this endless talk about equity, anti-racism, and so on” or CAP’s fault for so frustrating a quirky lefty that he flew the coop, it’s undoubtedly a sad thing for liberalism than a prominent institution no longer feels like home for the guy.

While I fully understand the desire to make this into a “the wokes did it” story about ideological struggles in American politics, I am struck by an alternative hypothesis.

It goes like this: Teixeira has worked at CAP for roughly two decades and like anyone who has worked at the same place for a long time he acquired enough frustration that he wants some new surroundings (and some new things to be annoyed about, as opposed to the older things that are annoying him–which is ultimately all that happens when you switch jobs: you swap out existing annoyances for new ones and you buy some time wherein you are ignorant of what those new annoyances will be).

One suspects, too, that there are conditions as they pertain to both money and workload that are relevant here (but are less sexy than blaming the wokes). As such, while it is clear that Teixeira (based on quotes in these pieces) is frustrated with the focus of his colleagues at CAP on topics less likely to be on the table at AEI, perhaps we ought not make this into something more than a guy changing jobs.

It is worth noting that Teixeira has worked on Brookings-AEI projects in the past and one suspects the world of elite think tanks is a relatively small one, so the notion that frustration led to conversation that led to a job offer is not hard to conjure.

Further, as the Politico piece notes: this is really about AEI trying to find its place in the post-Trump conservative universe. And it fits the existing media narrative about how the progressives are beaking the Democratic Party the same way MAGA is breaking the GOP, because, you know, both side and all…

Bottom line is that Teixeira made a decision that moving to AEI will allow him to do the work he wants to do, and AEI is trying to rebrand itself into a more heterodox think thank.

Note: my point here is less taking a side in the wokes v. social democrats part of this debate as much as it is pointing out how existing narratives make these stories into far more than they actually are. And, of course, Teixeira has a point of view about his former employer, don’t most people who have left a job have their own story about why they left, and aren’t they normally the hero of said tale?

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. James Joyner says:

    Not knowing Texeira personally at all, this strikes me as completely plausible. CAP is relatively young and there are likely generational clashes annoying him. But, yes, AEI is a strange animal now. It’s home to the #NeverTrump wing of the GOP and almost has to make common cause with Democrats in this milieu.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Also, he’s 70 years old. AEI may have offered him a nice semi-retirement sinecure that CAP couldn’t afford.

  3. Crusty Dem says:

    I think this take is entirely backwards. What is unusual here is not some 70 year old former moderate democrat deciding to take the pre-retirement bonus prize from a conservative group before riding off into the sunset. What’s telling is that the AEI is so desperate for anyone respectable to join the thin ranks of the NeverTrump conservatives that they’ve had to lay out big bucks to pull in a somewhat name conservative democrat. The ranks of the intellectual right are so meager they’re looking to poach anyone from the other team.

    Acting like Texeira’s decision to cash out means “democrats are in disarray” is the most absurd, trite analysis imaginable.

  4. Kurtz says:

    I would also note that Norm Ornstein has worked at AEI for a long time. He’s not exactly conservative, nor is he some ultra-liberal as McConnell claimed.

  5. Ken_L says:

    Teixeira, like Jim Carville and several others whom the media persists in labelling “Democratic strategists”, is a creature of the last century. They are convinced their successful promotion of the Clinton Presidency is a foolproof template for Democratic Party dominance until the end of time. They give every indication of being completely out of touch with what is going on in American politics, incapable of getting their noses out of polls and focus group findings. They remind me of post-retirement Tony Blair, insisting against all the evidence that if only Labour had stuck to his “third way” brand of politics, it would have stayed in power.

    They approach politics as a marketing project, and insist on condemning the Democrats for doing a poor marketing job to “the white working class”. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that many white working class voters have not stopped supporting the Democratic Party “brand” because they don’t like its “policies”; they’ve been persuaded to switch to supporting the Trump Republican Party because they find its bigotry comforting and they respond positively to its vague goal of making (white) America “great again”. Democrats could only win their votes back by espousing values and attitudes which would cost them the support of the voters who gave them control of Congress and the White House less than two years ago.

  6. Gavin says:

    Every discussion of Teixeira should include his co-authoring of “The Emerging Democratic Majority.” This foolish ghoul is a source of one of the most ridiculous and counterproductive Democratic strategies of the last few years — Sit Back, Promise Nothing, Win Endless Riches due to demographics eventually making a Democratic majority inevitable and unstoppable. This strategy/assertion is of course working backwards from his New Democrat conclusions [Why should Democrats do nothing for working people?] but acting as though it’s somehow worthy of intellectual consideration is purely risible.

  7. Ken_L says:

    @Gavin: He’s spent the last few years insisting his predictions were conditional on Democrats retaining the support of the “white working class”. Even if that’s true (I haven’t read the book), it simply raises an obvious question: why didn’t he anticipate the negative reaction of white working class voters to the very demographic changes he was signalling? Why didn’t he understand how the right could exploit white resentments?

  8. de stijl says:

    Dude always reminded me of Carville. In that ballpark.

    Not nearly to same extent but Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi come to my mind. People who are supposed to be on your side but continually demonstrate bad, shitty behavior.

    Bad logic, cherry picking, absolutely cocksure, incapable of accepting criticism or constructive feedback.

    People who are purportedly on your side who act in bad faith are really bad allies. I cottoned on to Greenwald’s shtick super fast when I was first introduced in the mid aughts. Knew he was a bad dude. Incapable of the slightest criticism without going jihad and siccing his minions on the person who dared criticize his reasoning and take. Really aggressively bad person. He really hates being criticized.

  9. Chip Daniels says:


    It should be blindingly obvious to anyone with even a high school level of history that if your descriptor of a class of Americans needs the modifier “white” then you should expect them to harbor racial animosity.