Merge Left

Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America

From the acclaimed author of Dog Whistle Politics, an essential road map to neutralizing the role of racism as a divide-and-conquer political weapon and to building a broad multiracial progressive future

“Ian Haney López has broken the code on the racial politics of the last fifty years.” —Bill Moyers

In 2014, Ian Haney López in Dog Whistle Politics named and explained the coded racial appeals exploited by right-wing politicians over the last half century—and thereby anticipated the 2016 presidential election. Now the country is heading into what will surely be one of the most consequential elections ever, with the Right gearing up to exploit racial fear-mongering to divide and distract, and the Left splintered over the next step forward. Some want to focus on racial justice head-on; others insist that a race-silent focus on class avoids alienating white voters.

Can either approach—race-forward or colorblind—build the progressive supermajorities necessary to break political gridlock and fundamentally change the country’s direction?

For the past two years, Haney López has been collaborating with a research team of union activists, racial justice leaders, communications specialists, and pollsters. Based on conversations, interviews, and surveys with thousands of people all over the country, the team found a way forward.

By merging the fights for racial justice and for shared economic prosperity, they were able to build greater enthusiasm for both goals—and for the cross-racial solidarity needed to win elections.
What does this mean? It means that neutralizing the Right’s political strategy of racial division is possible, today. And that’s the key to everything progressives want to achieve.

A work of deep research, nuanced argument, and urgent insight, Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America is an indispensable tool for the upcoming political season and in the larger fight to build racial justice and shared economic prosperity for all of us.


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
“Frankly, this approach connecting race to class and calling for unity is the most important work I’ve been involved with in twenty years of polling.”
—Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster and strategist
“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. Merge Left is the book for anyone interested in cross-racial solidarity on behalf of racial and economic justice for all!”
—Jane Fonda
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, executive director, African American Policy Forum, and faculty director, Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies, Columbia University
“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?
“With great clarity and thoughtfulness, Ian F. Haney López shows why the path to a truly just society lies in a multi-racial coalition of poor, working and middle-class Americans. . . . Powerful, urgent, and timely.”
—Robert B. Reich, former labor secretary and Chancellor’s Professor, University of California at Berkeley
“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 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
“In Dog Whistle Politics, Haney López 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
“Cross-racial solidarity holds the power to truly transform the nation. Ian Haney López’s Dog Whistle Politics called out how coded language used by right-wing politicians kept the White electorate focused on race and distracted from the economic issues plaguing Whites and people of color. His new book, Merge Left, 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
“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
Merge Left is the essential handbook for everyone who is standing up to xenophobia and fighting for humane immigration policies. And it is so much more than that. 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
Merge Left addresses the longer arc of history in our struggle for building a just society. Professor Haney López’s keen insights are desperately needed as we find our way forward at this perilous time for our democracy.”
—Eva Paterson, founder and president of the Equal Justice Society
“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
“Read Merge Left. The unity that makes the labor movement unbeatable requires genuine cross-racial solidarity.”
—Richard Trumka, president, AFL-CIO

News and Reviews

The Baffler

“A nuanced and sophisticated look at how racism works in American politics.”

Goodreads Reviews