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How the politics of prosecco explain what took the fizz out of the Democrats

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If you get a bad taste in your mouth when you hear the name Joe Manchin – the fossil fuel industry-backed senator from West Virginia who torpedoed his own party’s “Build Back Better” bill just before Christmas – you might want to reach for a glass of something to wash it away.

Given that it’s New Year’s Eve, there’s a reasonable chance you’re guzzling a glass of prosecco, which now accounts for just under half of all bubbly drunk globally. While this may take the taste away momentarily, there’s also an odd thing about prosecco I want you to consider. How that glass of Italian bubbly came to be in your hand gives us a window into understanding how a Democratic senator can derail a multitrillion dollar climate-focused national programme that promised huge amounts of money for his own state.

No, really. Stay with me here.

The stories of prosecco wine and West Virginia coal are classic examples of a regional “growth model”. Growth models describe the “how we make money” bit of an economy, plus the political and electoral coalition that supports it. Think of all the social, political and regulatory structures that build up over time around making and selling […]

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