The Great Democratic Myth

ToureThe video below is great. Cenk takes apart Toure of The Cycle. Go ahead and watch it because I agree with everything Cenk says, but I want to approach it from a slightly different perspective.

Toure is making the standard Democratic argument that we have to nominate conservatives so they will win. As Cenk points out, this just sets up a situation where the Democrats are Republican Lite, “Republican vs Republican? The Republican always wins!”

But the essence of Toure’s argument is that when we ran liberals for president, they lost. This is probably the biggest Democratic myth. It is our version of the Republican myth that Bush the Elder lost because he raised taxes and now no Republican will ever agree to raise taxes. The Democratic myth is based upon three elections: 1980, 1984, and 1988. The 1980 election is fairly hard to analyze because a lot of stuff was going on. But one of those things is that the economy was not doing well. In 1984 and 1988, the economy was booming. The single most important factor in presidential elections is the economic trend.

Look at it the other way. In 1992, Bill Clinton won the presidency. Why? Not because he was a conservative Democrat from the south! And it wasn’t because Bush the elder raised taxes a small amount. It was because the economy had tanked. Clinton won re-election in 1996 because the economy was doing very well. Ditto for Gore in 2000, but with two caveats: (1) the economy had really slowed down; and (2) we don’t live in a democracy when elections are close. Bush won in 2004 because the economy was improving. Obama won in 2008 because the economy was in crisis. And he won re-election in 2012 because the economy was improving, even if slowly.

So the “liberals are unelectable” narrative is wrong. The narrative should be, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The problem is that many Democrats want to believe that we must run mushy centrist candidates to win. Democratic elites do not want to shake things up because they represent the interests of the upper class. This is why journalists who are quite liberal when it comes to identity politics are generally pro-globalization and anti-union. I don’t know where Toure stands in this group, but he is singing its song.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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