Sunday, November 8, 2020

Democrats Should Take the Long View

Interesting analysis here from Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times. I think he gets it right and includes some enlightening words from this fellow Teixeira...
"Democrat Joe Biden [has] ousted Donald Trump from the White House, yet for many Democrats and progressives the results of the election have produced mostly disillusionment, even despair.
The reason isn't hard to decipher. They expected the end of the Trump era to be marked by a "blue wave," a surge of progressive political power that would sweep away not only Trump but right-wing obstructionism in the Senate and, in time, even the Supreme Court.
But the wave isn't visible in the results, so what's consumed the left is pessimism and gloom.
The model for this take comes from the liberal writer Eric Levitz of New York Magazine, who pronounced the election "a nigh-catastrophic setback for progressive politics in the United States."
Levitz declared the Senate lost to Democrats for at least a decade to come and even cast doubt on the party's ability to hold on to the White House in 2024. All this before all the votes have been counted in 2020.
History has some advice for the despairing: Settle down and take a deep breath. Things aren't nearly that bad.....
A couple of fundamental points need to be made at the outset. One is that a progressive trend in American politics has been building for years; evidence of it was visible in many down-ballot contests on election day and obscured by exotic conditions in others....
Another is that it's foolish to be defeated by one's own exaggerated expectations. Political "waves" don't happen all that frequently, and when they do, they're often evanescent, in part because they can provoke equal and opposite reaction.
It may be better for progressivism to continue to infuse itself into the body politic in stages, rather than all at once.
The trend toward a more progressive American electorate has been developing over the long term. Democratic presidential candidates have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight elections, from Bill Clinton's first victory in 1992 through Biden's win.
In two of those elections, however, the popular vote loser became president — George W. Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016 — due to the peculiarities of the electoral college (and in Bush's case, the meddling of the Supreme Court).
Many progressives have been wringing their hands over the thought that some 69 million Americans could have cast their votes for a candidate as manifestly unfit for reelection as Donald Trump. Here it's also worth examining the record. Over the last 200 years of American history, the presidential vote has almost never broken down by more than about 60-40.....
Over the last couple of decades progressive projects have materially advanced in American politics. The nation has embraced gay rights including same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana and moved toward universal health coverage. Immigration policies were becoming more liberal.
None of this happened without significant pushback from reactionary elements in all three branches of government and at all governmental levels. As has been often observed, the path to justice is not a straight one.
If there's a silver lining in the blue wave that never came, it may be that the outcome will prompt Democrats to take stock of their approach to building a lasting political edifice. That's the view of Ruy Teixeira, whose 2002 book "The Emerging Democratic Majority," co-written with John Judis, examined the demographic trends underlying Democratic power.
Teixeira's thesis, as he told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post before election day, was that a Democratic coalition uniting non-whites, professionals and people who live in cities and suburbs "could only be dominant and stable if it managed to retain a substantial share of the white working class."
These are people who "haven’t been doing well for decades," Teixeira says. "Their communities have suffered declines, jobs problems, healthcare problems. Democrats have to speak to these people.... You don’t need a message that will only appeal to the Rust Belt or only appeal to the Sun Belt. You can run on a broad message that has appeal not only to persuadable members of the white working class in the Northern-tier swing states, but also has appeal to those voters in Southern states, to younger voters, to non-whites all over the country."
For Democrats, this is still a work in progress. There has been progress; what the election tells us is that the destination hasn't been reached, just yet."

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