Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Progressive thinking

The Liberal Rick Perlstein, writing for The Village Voice, goes--as far as I can tell--absolutely bonkers. This confusing and indignant essay seems to argue that "elections in America are indeed broken, badly, and vulnerable to fraud. That fact is not politically neutral: The problems in America’s election system have advantaged the Republicans, in significant and consistent ways." It’s a big old conspiracy, that’s what it is. That’s why--under the same system that allowed the Dems to dominate American politics--the GOP is now establishing itself as the dominant party. Therefore, change the whole system. Karl Rove is an evile genius, Ohio’s Secretray of State Ken Blackwell is a "cad," etc., etc. This confusing piece is an example "progressive" thinking at its best, unless you want to note

Daily Kos’ response to the mess hall bombing in Mosul: "Bush destroys another 22 families." He should be ashamed of himself! Maybe I’m just irritated after having to dig my car out from eighteen inches of snow this morning, and on my birthday!

But here is a somewhat more rational Progressive thought from John B. Judis & Ruy Teixeira, in which they try to show that Demos should not despair about the election, there is no sign of a realignment. Bush’s victory is merely a "Reagan-lite" coalition that can be overcome. Here is how it starts:

There were certainly reasons to despair after the 2004 election -- chiefly, the awful thought that George W. Bush and a Republican Congress could find the means to exceed the egregious irresponsibility, the xenophobia, the sheer partisan pettiness, and the callous disregard for life and law of Bush’s first term. But the election itself, and Bush’s margin of victory over Democrat John Kerry, were not reasons to despair. Bush won re-election by a smaller margin than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, or Dwight Eisenhower -- and against a deeply flawed Democratic opponent.

And there was little sign of a party realignment. In the great realigning elections of 1932 and ’36, and ’80 and ’84, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, respectively, created majorities by winning over new blocs of voters from their opponents. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Bush and the Republicans had to patch together what remained of Reagan’s older coalition -- without those states and voters that had earlier begun moving toward the Democrats. Bush’s victory in 2004 didn’t represent the onset of a new majority but the survival of an older one.

The Democrats surely showed weaknesses in the election, particularly in the Deep South and among white working-class voters, but they also displayed continuing strength among constituencies that will command a growing share of the electorate in years to come. These include minorities, single men and women, and college-educated voters. The Democrats also demonstrated surprising strength among younger voters -- partly, to be sure, because of the Iraq War, but also because these voters are in tune with the cosmopolitan sensibility that the Democrats represent. And in this election, the Democrats benefited from a new Internet-based popular movement that could do for this era’s Democratic Party what the labor movement did for the old party and what the religious right has done for the Reagan Republicans.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Perlstein is beneath comment. As for Texeira and Judis, it sounds as if they’re still peddling the main argument from their book of a few years back on "The Emerging Democratic Majority." For a critical take on that tome, see

I see the title " Progressivbe Thinking" and I am moved to think about George Carlina dn his routine about oxymorons. "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence". Seems to fit right in.

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