Posted by Curt on 22 November, 2016 at 8:49 pm. 2 comments already!


Ronald Radosh:

With Hillary Clinton’s defeat the Obama era ended abruptly. This was not the outcome the polls and the media had predicted. There was conjecture that when Trump inevitably lost the election, the Republican Party would unravel and perhaps cease to exist. But now it is the Democrats who are in disarrayafter losing the Presidency and control of the Senate. How did this happen?

Twenty years ago, I wrote a book titled Divided They Fell: The Demise of the Democratic Party: 1964-1996. The book traced how the Democrats shifted from a mainstream centrist party to one of the left, adopting policies that eventually alienated many Americans, causing them to move over to the Republican column. The 2016 election is the result of that process.

The seeds of Trump’s victory were planted in the first “progressive” reforms instituted during and after the campaign of George McGovern in 1972, marking the beginning of the Democrats’ decline. At the Chicago convention, the McGovern Democrats pushed out the old party bosses and trade union leaders, and put in their place self-proclaimed progressives chosen by the identity group to which they belonged; i.e., African-Americans, students, women, etc.

In carrying this out, the Chicago delegation that had been put together by the union leaders was literally kicked out of the convention. Attacking organized labor as a “conservative” group made many union Democrats slowly move into the ranks of the Republican Party. That trend culminated during the Ronald Reagan campaign, producing the large group dubbed “Reagan Democrats.”

The Democrats had begun their long march to the left by choosing to appeal to liberal constituency groups rather than the traditional electorate that made up the old New Deal-Fair Deal coalition. They also instituted quotas to make sure that future delegates would consist of a solid representation of members of these identity groups through institution of a quota system. As McGovern explained: “The way we got the quota thing through was by not using the word ‘quotas.’”

The Democratic Party was, in effect, captured by the left. There was an interregnum when Bill Clinton won the election as a “New Democrat,” arguing for a centrist path. Even so, during his first two years in office, Clinton had tried and failed to institute policies of a leftist nature like instituting a universal health care system to be run by his wife, supporting affirmative action, and cutting the defense budget. In the end, he found he found that to get anything done, he would have to work with Republicans, adopting a policy that was then called “triangulation.”

Now we have come full circle. The Trump victory this month was a wake-up call to the Democratic Party—a group whose main support came from elites in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and East Coast backers in or close to Wall Street, professionals, minority groups, and many members of the public service trade unions. This year, women were supposed to be all in, but failed to come through. Missing above all was the white working class, once the heart of the Democratic Party during the years of F.D.R. and Harry S Truman.

What happened in this election is explained well by John B. Judis in the Sunday Washington Post:

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