Middle American Mellow?

Since the 1960's, American politics at the national level has primarily consisted of an endless search for a new majority. The Democratic Party's embrace of the civil-rights movement kicked off the quest by undermining the New Deal coalition that combined white Southerners with white, ethnic, Northern union members, allowing the Republican Party to invade the South and even swipe many of their rivals' voters in the North. The Democrats, in return, got the black vote and kept (usually) most of the union vote, but as the victories of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan attest, the GOP got the better deal. Ever since, the Democrats have been seeking to rebuild the coalition they lost without having to abandon the eccentric positions to which both their ideological preferences and new electoral base wed them. The best tactic they have devised is to nominate white Southern candidates, such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore, who never jeopardize the structural basis of the left's hegemony in state, economy, and culture but can plausibly masquerade as less leftish than the party and its true bosses really are. This strategy has indeed fooled some of the people some of the time, but it cannot work in the long run because the party's radicalism cannot be concealed forever, and when it comes out, white middle-class voters will defect.

The perennial quest of the Democrats, therefore, is to steal back the voters who,...

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