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David Coates

Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies

Coates is an expert on U.S. domestic and foreign policy. He can comment on liberal politics and elections.


Whether he’s going head to head against a conservative talk radio host or providing instant analysis of breaking news, David Coates is not afraid to voice his opinion. Well-versed on key policy issues, Coates has been interviewed by the PBS News Hour, Investors Daily, Newsweek, and many other media outlets. Coates can comment on the Democratic presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley) and the Democratic Party platform for the Read More »

Whether he’s going head to head against a conservative talk radio host or providing instant analysis of breaking news, David Coates is not afraid to voice his opinion. Well-versed on key policy issues, Coates has been interviewed by the PBS News Hour, Investors Daily, Newsweek, and many other media outlets. Coates can comment on the Democratic presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley) and the Democratic Party platform for the 2016 election. He is the author of the 2014 book, America in the Shadow of Empires, which calls for a renewed national conversation about the nature of U.S. foreign policy and its domestic consequences. As in those imperial and global powers before ours, he says, the pursuit of foreign dominance ultimately erodes the strength of the domestic economy. Coates is the author of numerous books, articles and blog posts on politics, history and economics. His books include Answering Back: Liberal Responses to Conservative Arguments and Making the Progressive Case: Towards a Stronger U.S. Economy. His political and historical expertise encompasses the American economy, foreign policy, trade agreements, military spending and deployment, healthcare, education, the emerging presidential candidates, and relationships with our allies, particularly the U.K. More about Coates and a complete list of recent blogs and publications can be found at

Media Appearances

Taking Supper With Trump — The Need for a Very Long Spoon

The Huffington Post

September 16, 2017

The Democratic Party leadership in both the House and the Senate spent last week congratulating themselves on the deal they supposedly struck with the president on legislation to protect Dreamers, and presumably took some pleasure too from the adverse impact of that supposed deal on Trump’s relationship with Congressional Republicans and his base. They should not do so. They should spend their time worrying instead about the adverse effects on the electoral credibility of a Democratic Party that gets too close to this president, and on a leadership team that – by getting so close – erodes the distance between themselves and a president who is uniquely unsuited to the office.

Trump And Afghanistan: Old Problems And New Dangers

The Huffington Post

September 1, 2017

Keeping track of important policy developments with Donald J. Trump as president is difficult and yet vital. There is so much noise and distraction surrounding everything that the current president does, and such a perplexing mixture of bombast and bigotry in so much of what he says, that the important things going on quietly behind the scenes can so easily fall off our collective political radar. One such development which that radar briefly picked up was the content of what the president called on Aug. 21 “our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.” At least he did give a public address on this, mapping out – if only in rather general terms – his thinking on what that path should be, a public address that was carried by the networks during prime time. So, some at least of the foreign policy thinking going on quietly behind the scenes did briefly surface in late August. But it was a surfacing that was sandwiched between two controversial presidential statements on the events in Charlottesville – statements which understandably then received far more attention and analysis in the national and international media than did Trump’s public ruminations on how he plans to bring America’s longest-running war to a successful conclusion. That lack of follow-up and attention is a pity, for when addressing the nation from Fort Myer in Arlington, Donald J. Trump said at least three things that should give us all cause for concern. He said: · “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists. ... From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.”

Donald J. Trump As A ‘Morbid Symptom’

The Huffington Post

August 3, 2017

The great Italian revolutionary, Antonio Gramsci, when struggling to understand the rise to power of Benito Mussolini, once wrote this of Italy’s interwar crisis: that it “consists precisely in the fact that the old order is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” For Gramsci, the bombastic and narcissistic Mussolini was one such morbid symptom; and it is tempting – given the obvious parallels that could be drawn – to understand Donald J. Trump as his modern-day equivalent. Indeed, that parallel has been drawn, and drawing it can be a source of both comfort and enlightenment. But if full comfort and enlightenment are what we really seek, there is much to be gained by focusing instead on the first half of that quotation rather than on the second. For if Gramsci was right, you get a Mussolini, or a Donald J. Trump, or for that matter the UK’s Nigel Farage, only in the gaps between broad periods of economic stability and social order; and the fact that we now have a president like Donald J. Trump is yet more evidence that – around him and us – an old order is dying and a new one cannot yet be born. If Gramsci was right, understanding the present in this manner, as an interregnum, is in that sense potentially both enlightening and comforting. It is enlightening, in that it underscores the impossibility of finding a new order by relenting pursing the old, in the manner of the Republican Party here and the Conservatives in London; and it is comforting, in that creating that new order gives an overwhelming purpose to the politics of those most opposed to those conservatives – namely the Democrats and the British Labour Party.

Finding Comfort In The Political Success Of Other Countries

The Huffington Post

July 10, 2017

With the wisdom of hindsight, it is now clear that the sheer quality of the Obama intellect, and the solid integrity of his character, lulled many of those who twice voted for him into a false sense of security. It was as though we forgot, with too great an ease and for too long a time, just how difficult and disappointing life becomes for progressive people in this country when both the White House and the Congress are in less intelligent, more conservative hands. We forgot that a president could embarrass us as well as inspire us; and that a Republican-controlled Congress, whose vitriol against Barack Obama had gridlocked Washington for more than half a decade, could very quickly move onto the offensive once the object of their vitriol had gone. Well, that lulling is well and truly over. The inmates have totally taken over the asylum this time. We have a White House bereft of intelligence and character, and a Congress bereft of morality. There is no space for progressives to take a political nap now. We have serious things to do. The first is to develop mechanisms that equip us to cope with the horrors of one Trump tweet after another, and with a string of outrageously reactionary legislative proposals from the Republican majority in Congress that threaten to blow enormous holes in America’s already thread-bare welfare safety net. The second is to develop strategies that will equip us to replace Donald Trump with a president we can respect again, and to replace the current ultra-conservative Congress with one fully engaged with repairing the damage currently being done to the basic fabric of American society by Tea-Party inspired ideologues and the Alt-Right.

Challenging Republican premises: On the cutting of taxes

The Huffington Post

October 4, 2015

One of the great dangers of the seemingly never-ending media coverage of the Republican presidential circus is that it facilitates the steady drip into the popular consciousness of a set of problematic conservative assertions that any serious progressive politics needs to question and refute...

Taking Donald Trump seriously

The Huffington Post

September 4, 2015

The initial response to Donald Trump's pursuit of the American presidency, certainly among many more moderate members of the Republican Party, was to wait for his pursuit to implode. It seemed to many seasoned observers of such campaigns that this one was not serious; or that if it was, it was inherently flawed. There was no need to take Donald Trump seriously, so the argument ran, because Donald Trump himself was not a serious candidate...

Jeremy who? The Bernie Sanders phenomenon at home and abroad

The Huffington Post

August 26, 2015

If you watch virtually any major American news channel right now, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only political development worthy of note was the on-going presidential campaign of Donald Trump. But you would be wrong...

The Republican juggernaut marching us to war

The Huffington Post

August 7, 2015

The over-riding temptation in the wake of the first debate between Republican presidential hopefuls may be to focus on the Trump opening gaffe, or to join the mainstream media in ranking candidate performance and picking winners. But the temptation to focus on the differences on display in Cleveland should be avoided -- by progressive commentators at least -- when the bigger story is surely that of the level of agreement between the vast majority of the candidates who spoke...

Trade deals and the importance of political gridlock

The Huffington Post

June 20, 2015

For a political capital renowned for gridlock, there are times when Washington D.C. looks poised for too much action rather than for too little. This is one such time. Moves seem well underway in the Republican-controlled Senate to fast-track the vote on fast-tracking -- maybe as early as this coming Tuesday -- a move that will then open the way to a vote on the TPP trade deal in which the Obama Administration is now investing such a large quantity of its own rapidly diminishing political capital...


Paradigms of explanation

Today the vast majority of economists and sociologists are largely ignorant of each other's work and intellectual inheritance and, despite significant encroachments from each side into the other's territory, the core of the two subjects are moving apart. On balance, I believe ...

The internal and external face of New Labour's political economy

To grasp fully the nature and significance of the economic policies at the heart of dominant political projects, those policies have to be studied in the round. They have to be grasped as complex totalities which touch all aspects of the political agenda ...

Capitalist models and social democracy: the case of New Labour

Some of the more critical readings of the adequacy and effectiveness of New Labour in power have been developed by scholars willing to link arguments about the trajectory of Labour politics to wider arguments about the character of the contemporary ...

Models of capitalism in the new world order: The UK case

In the debate over economic performance which has preoccupied UK policy makers for the last four decades, foreignmodels' of more successful capitalisms elsewhere have been an important point of reference. Those models have been variously market-led (USA) ...

Labour governments: old constraints and new parameters

This is an amended version of a paper first presented to a seminar at the International Centre for Labour Studies in the University of Manchester. The author is grateful for the advice and comments given by members of the Centre who attended that seminar; and for ...

Expert Pitches

Running Mates and Rebellion: WFU expert available for comment on National political conventions

July 14, 2016

David Coates, Worrell Professor of Anglo-American Studies at Wake Forest University, is an...

Experts offer differing views on 'Brexit': Disaster vs. Long-term Benefit

June 24, 2016

Two WFU professors can offer different perspectives on Brexit today: one says "disaster of...

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More Information

Areas of Expertise

  • U.S. Public Policy
  • Progressive Politics
  • UK Politics
  • The Obama Administration
  • The U.S. and UK Financial Crisis
  • The Case for a Green Economy
  • The Case for Managed Trade


University of Oxford: D.Phil., Politics

University of York: B.A., Politics



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