Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Tom Hayden is Happy!

James Taranto reports from that Tom Hayden is happy with the direction of American Politics in this election cycle.


Wednesday, February 18, 2004 3:11 p.m. EST

The Spirit of ’72

Tom Hayden, the 64-year-old erstwhile student protester, California state senator and Jane Fonda husband, is happy with the direction the Democratic Party has taken this year. "The Democratic presidential candidates have adopted the broad goals of the peace and justice movements, becoming anti-war and pro-fair trade in the course of the primaries," he writes at

American politics is being realigned swiftly and unexpectedly in a progressive direction. On war and peace, jobs and trade, civil rights and civil liberties, and the environment, the Democratic Party is being shaped by its own insurgent constituencies on the ground than by its internal leadership, consultants and pollsters, fundraising professionals, revolving-door law firms and their clientele. Such a realignment was envisioned in the Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) when human hope was in the air 40 years ago. The early SDS strategy was that independent social movements (civil rights, students, peace and labor) could shape a progressive political majority, force white Southern conservatives from the party, and spark a new governing coalition in the tradition of the New Deal. Assassinations and the war in Vietnam ended those hopes. But now the same fault lines have appeared in American democracy once again, and those whose ideals were forged in the 1960s may have one last chance to, so to speak, accomplish their mission.

Taranto concludes: If Hayden is right, this bodes ill for the Dems. The last time they unreservedly embraced the "ideals" of the 1960s was in 1972, when they nominated George McGovern, he of acid, amnesty and abortion. McGovern managed 37.5% of the popular vote and carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, and he was running against an unpopular war.

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