Merge Left


merge-left-coverMerge Left

Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America

Today more than ever, warnings to fear immigrants and people of color bombard us incessantly. Quite simply, the Right’s fundamental strategy has been to divide and distract while rigging the rules to benefit the superrich. No more. It’s time to reject this kind of purposeful division and to join together to demand that government work for all of us, whether we’re white, Black, or brown.

Ian Haney López has spent the last two years collaborating with a team of union activists, racial justice leaders, communications specialists, and pollsters. Based on conversations and interviews with people all over the country, the team discovered that a large majority of the population (people of color included) fall into “the persuadable middle”—they hold both progressive and racist views and can be shifted in one direction or another based on different stories about America.

For decades, while the Right has exploited racial fear-mongering, the Left has splintered. Some have wanted to tackle racism head-on; others have insisted that a race-silent focus on class avoids alienating white voters. Merge Left distills the heartening results of cutting-edge new research: naming racism as a weapon of the rich and calling for cross-racial solidarity builds unity across the base and enlists the broad middle in supporting progressive dreams.

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Merge Left Preface

The book starts with Ian’s efforts to convince white trade unionists that the greatest threat their families face is anti-Black racism. Read the Merge Left Preface


Merge Left Summary

Read the Summary of Merge Left


Media Engagement

Trash the Polls: Solidarity is the only viable path to the 2020 presidential election
Dave Denison
The Baffler
November 7, 2019  

How Democrats Should Be Talking About Race and Class
Joan C. Williams
October 18, 2019  

Donald Trump and dog-whistle politics: How to beat him—and build long-term progressive victory
Paul Rosenberg
October 5, 2019  

How to defeat dog-whistle politics, win elections and build a progressive majority
Paul Rosenberg
September 29, 2019  

Trump wants you to think he’s racist so you won’t notice he’s corrupt and killing jobs
Jason Sattler
USA Today
September 18, 2019  

Ian Haney López: ‘Dividing Races is the Main Weapon of the Rich’
Roger Bybee
The Progressive
August 2, 2019  

5 questions for ‘Merge Left’ author Ian Haney López on fusing race and class—and winning elections
Ian Reifowitz
Daily Kos
August 2, 2019


Early Praise for Merge Left

“In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian explained how coded racism in politics tears us apart. He shows us how we can come together again in his new book, Merge Left.”

Van Jones, host of The Van Jones Show and Redemption Project on CNN

“I’ve been working to change the political system for years. I have believed that what is needed is a movement strong enough to unite both people of color and white working class people. I have scratched my head about how best to frame this. Then Merge Left arrived. Finally, we have the how-to manual for dismantling a system of division that hurts everyone.”

Jane Fonda

“Read Merge Left. The unity that makes the labor movement unbeatable requires genuine cross-racial solidarity.”

Richard Trumka, president, AFL-CIO

Merge Left explains the tools we need to highlight how racism is used to drive working families apart. Now, we have a frame to take race head-on in politics and in our journey to build power for working people.”

Mary Kay Henry, international president, SEIU

Merge Left makes clear that major progress on racial justice will follow from defeating dog whistle politics once and for all. For all of us seeking to end state violence against communities of color, this book is powerful, timely, trenchant, and practical.”

Kimberlé Crenshaw, faculty director, Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, Columbia University

“Understanding how to counteract the conservative playbook on race . . . is the great challenge of political strategy today. It has also been the determined, prescient and indispensably productive pursuit of Ian Haney López for decades.”

Rashad Robinson, president, Color Of Change

“Cross-racial solidarity is the Holy Grail of progressive politics. Merge Left makes the best case yet for how to finally achieve it as the route to racial and economic justice.”

Heather McGhee, distinguished senior fellow, Demos and Demos Action

Merge Left should be read by every person who strives for a sane and humane immigration policy—and a flourishing democracy for all of us.”

María Teresa Kumar, president, Voto Latino

“Racism is a weapon against the working class and cross-racial solidarity is the linchpin to creating an energized and empowered movement for restaurant workers and beyond. Merge Left explores a powerful strategy and path forward where working people and families can win—not just in the next election, but into the future.”

Saru Jayaraman, president, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

“Frankly, this approach connecting race to class and calling for unity is the most important work I’ve been involved with in 20 years of polling.”

Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and strategist

“Having presented and implemented winning campaigns based on this research, I can’t imagine a clearer or more long overdue playbook for progressives than Merge Left. Haney López moves us from diagnosis to cure.”

Anat Shenker-Osorio, research director for the Race-Class Narrative Project

Merge Left is for every activist and progressive committed to building a broad, diverse and dynamic movement that actually delivers on the promise of both racial and economic justice.”

Frank Sharry, executive director, America’s Voice

“We all lose if the only people talking about race are the people trying to divide us against each other. That’s why [Merge Left] is so pivotal in our fight for an economy and democracy that works for everyone.”

Gerry Hudson, secretary-treasurer, SEIU

Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America uses research and focus group results to make it clear that transformative solidarity is real and we can make it happen. To all believers, the hopeful and others, please read it now.”

Angela Glover-Blackwell, founder, PolicyLink

“Ian Haney López has established himself as one of the most prescient and insightful voices on how race and racism have shaped and continue to reshape American society. Here he asks the toughest question facing strategists of the left. How do we unite those on the losing end of both the nation’s racial divide and its rampant class inequality? . . . This is an important read for anyone hoping to build a meaningful workers’ coalition on the left.”

Gary Segura, dean, Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA

“Solidarity is the crucial ingredient in the fight against the ever-more-dangerous plutocracy. Ian Haney López helps explain where that solidarity might come from, even in our strained and divided society. Epically helpful!”

Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

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