A party of outsiders

Carlin, David R. Jr.

OF SEVERAL MIND David R. Carlin, Jr. A PASTY OF ODTSIDEBS THE URGE TO VOTE -REPUBUC AN I read in the newspaper the other day that Mikhail Gorbachev, no doubt looking through aglasnost darkly,...

...Some say a move to the left will help...
...Yet they soothe their troubled consciences by voting Democrat for lower offices, thus explaining to themselves that they are "basically Democrats" who "jnst happen" to vote for the Republican candidate for president every four years...
...They are decidedly mainstream in education, income, and occupation...
...No matter how little sympathy some of these groups had for one another, they shared the common denominator of being' 'outsiders.'' This was sufficient to getthem to suspend their differences and pledge election-day allegiance to a common political party...
...If the cause of the unfortunate fact is easily removable (cock your bat at a slightly different angle, open your stance a little, etc...
...Congress, and they control the majority of governorships and state legislatures...
...Since 1952 there have been nine presidential elections...
...A PASTY OF ODTSIDEBS THE URGE TO VOTE -REPUBUC AN I read in the newspaper the other day that Mikhail Gorbachev, no doubt looking through aglasnost darkly, predicted that the U.S...
...But among those who do face reality and ask the questions, the usual answer is that a relatively minor adjustment Will solve the problem...
...scare non-Cuban Hispanics...
...I disagree with this rerlativelyptimiseven i belong to the class which figures prominently in that analysis...
...The cluses of this slump...
...president elected in 1988 will most definitely not be a Democrat...
...Instead, we can keep things pretty much as they are, and with a little, luck welltweak out of our presidential stamp...
...It is in our class interest at least our short-term Interest, to adgptltus comforting analysis...
...But when blacks got promoted, during the 1930s and 1940s, from pariah statin to merely marginalized status, they did what nearly every other marginalized group has done: they became Democrats...
...Despite these disagreements, there is pretty genera) agreement that the correct ideological shifting of ground combined with the right candidate will put a Democrat in the White House again...
...So the question is: Do Democratic candidates for president lose because the party is holding its bat wrong...
...hence, the Jewish vote for Mondale...
...But Catholics, with the notabje exception of non-Cuban Hispanics, no longer feel marginalized...
...as I see them, are deeply routed in the history and nature of the Democratic party, Throughout most of the ifpublic's political histoty, perhaps right Back to the days when Jefferson and his friends wen putting.the party together,, the Democratic party has had a special appeal,to, and dependancy upon, those groups who saw themselves as "outsiders," who felt that they were somehow not in the mainstream of American life...
...Some say candidates of type A will bring the long-strayed sheep back into the fold...
...To this day, thirty-five years after Eisenhower's first election, many Democrats, with a blindness to reality that would do credit to a determined schizophrenic, refuse to acknowledge that their party is experiencing a profound and protracted presidential slump...
...Apparently the general secretary has caught a glimpse of the truth also discerned by Ted Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, and Sam Nunn...
...The Democrats, so interested in marginalized groups, were not interested in downright pariahs, which is what blacks were...
...Ford in 1976) was won over a GOP that was carrying exceptional liabilities (Watergate, Ford's pardon of Nixon, Reagan's primary challenge of Ford...
...There is no consensus, sorry to report, on what me adjsstment should be...
...After all, it is plausibly argued, the Democrats control both houses of the U.S...
...Throughout most of the party's history, America's blacks were the great exception to this rule...
...others prefer a move to th« right...
...Blacks are still marginalized...
...a dismal past record is no basis for predicting a dismal future...
...In our latter, happier days, we sometimes forget that until the coming of FDR, racism was one of the chief defining characteristics of the Demo-' cratic party...
...Hence the long affinity of the party with the poor, the working class, immigrants, ethnics, Catholics, lews, and white Southerners...
...And of the three, one was a squeaker (Kennedy vs...
...but they remain, near the religious margin, a fact they were reminded of when Ronald Reagan, despite staying home from church on Sundays, made overt electoral appeals to Christian groups in the 1984 election...
...namely, the class of Demo cnttic ejected officials...
...Nor do white Southerners...
...True, they ¦ may have a bad conscience about this, feeling it constitutes a betrayal of their forefathers, who spjn in their graves every time one of the present generation votes Republican...
...others believe a type B candidate will do the trick...
...Besides, keeping white Southerners happy meant joining in die conspiracy against Macks, nearly all of whom lived in die South tijl the second and third decades of the twentieth century...
...But a losing streak, like a batting slump, is a mere fact...
...Jews area more ambiguous case...
...It may be an act of great historical ingratitude for traditional Democratic constituency groups to desert the party that stood by them in'their less prosperous days...
...Below the White House level, in other words, the nation is predominantly Democratic, It is nothing more than a bizarre anomaly mat a Democrat electorate should keep electing Republican pres553 idential candidates...
...But history is a long tale of ingratitude, and complaining, about'it does not win elections...
...since, if it:iscorrect, wp are not faced with the heavy task of fundamentally reorienting the party...
...Of these, the Democrats have won only three...
...Often, of course, this question is not even asked...
...The trouble for a party of "outsiders,"., of course, is that there just aren't enough marginalized people in America anymoi'e not enough, at all events, toekit presidents...
...Whea folks enter the American mainstream they develop powerful urges to vote Republican, which has always been the more thoroughly "Ameri- ¦ canized" of the two parties...
...Nixon in 1960), while another (Carter vs...
...Or do they lose because the party is past its prime in the big league of presidential politics...
...Barring some-spectacular accident, there is little reason to believe that whiteSouthemers and non-Hispanic Catholics, once, die mainstay of the Democratic party, will vote anything but Republican for president in 1988...

Vol. 114 • October 1987 • No. 17


 
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