In an article, 2012 or Never, in New York Magazine, the always interesting and often funny Jonathan Chait discusses the long-term (but not long off) trend away from Republican and toward Democratic dominance. This is not exactly breaking news. What’s more, there is a counter argument (which Chait discusses): political parties are not stagnant. But that’s good news. Over the last forty years, the Republican success has not been their own accomplishments; it is rather the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama: the most conservative, free market socialists to ever be elected president. We hope that this demographic change will cause the Republican Party to move to the left.
This will not necessarily happen, however. I do not think the our nation really became more conservative along with our government. Instead, the Republican Party has been really good at getting people who don’t agree with them about policy to vote for them anyway, by distracting them. It is What’s the Matter with Kansas, or, more to the point, political magic: vote about millions of dollars going to the poor while I take billions away from you to give to the rich! Nothing up my sleeve—or even in my conscience!
Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal makes the argument that the Republican hegemony over the last several decades have been due to racism—especially southern racism. But I don’t recall him quoting any studies (but he may have, I lost my copy of his book). Regardless, Chait lays it out very clearly:
The future may indeed be bright. I am certain that this history is correct. But I fear that it will repeat in ways that only the hateful conservative movement can predict.