Party Ideological Trends, Senate, 1931-Current

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 07:59

Following up on yesterday's article, "Long-term trends show Democratic Party moving to the left" (which aimed to provide context to the left vs. center fight over the Democratic Party the Huffington Post wrote about yesterday), here is some more detail on the long-term ideological trends of the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S. Senate.  They largely confirm conventional wisdom, but not entirely.  Among the findings:

  1. Within the Senate, Democrats are moving to the left, Republicans are moving to the right, and he two parties are now further apart from each other than ever.

  2. Since the 1960's, the left-ward trend for Democrats outside the south has slowed.  It even briefly reversed itself in the 1970's and 1980's.  Still, Senate Democrats today, both inside and outside the south, are more left-wing than ever.

  3. As a collective decade, the 1960's were the most fertile time ever for progressive legislation.  For a single administration, the best opportunity was actually the Carter years. When they had 60 votes in 2009, Democrats had a roughly similar legislative opportunity to the 1977-1980 period.  In 2010, the opportunity is more akin to the 1961-1968 period.  Were it not for the filibuster, this would be the most left-wing federal government of all time (but hey, Democrats could get rid of the filibuster anytime via the nuclear option, they just choose not to do so).
All of the information below is based on DW-Nominate scores, which are the only available long-term ideological voting scorecard for Congress.  DW-Nominate is based on roll call votes, and uses a negative 1.000 to positive 1.000 scale.  The lower the number, the more left-wing a party or Senator is considered to be on economic issues.

1. Democrats are moving left, Republicans are moving right, and polarization is increasing
Conventional wisdom is that the two major parties are moving away from each other.  Democrats are moving left, and Republicans are moving right, as the parties shift into primarily ideological coalitions.  This appears to be exactly correct:

Senate DW-Nominate mean, by party, by decade

Democrats had a sharp move to the left during the 1940's to 1960's period, and then again in the 1990's and 2000's.  Republicans started further out on the right than Democrats began on the left, and began a hard right turn in the 1980's.  

2. Left-wing turn for Democrats not just because southern Democrats left the party
Like many others, I had assumed that the Democratic shift to the left was largely just conservative southern Democrats moving out of the party.  However, a look at DW-Nominate scores only for Democratic Senators not from the 11 states that once formed the Confederacy shows that some of the movement was caused by that phenomenon, but not all of it (number of Senators in parenthesis):

Democratic non-Southern Senators, mean DW-nominate score by decade, 1930-2010
1930's: -0.093 (220)
1940's: -0.160 (175)
1950's: -0.291 (157)
1960's: -0.370 (224)
1970's: -0.357 (218)
1980's: -0.338 (185)
1990's: -0.384 (201)
2000's: -0.418 (223)

Outside of the south, there was rapid left-wing movement among Democratic Senators from the 1930's to the 1960's.  That was followed by a period with some rightward backsliding, which was itself followed by a new period of left-wing movement. By 1993-1994, the Democratic Senate caucus outside of the south was once again as left-wing as it was in the 1960's.  By the most recent decade, it had surpassed the 1960's:

Democratic non-Southern Senators, mean DW-nominate score by Congress, 1989-2010
101st: -0.352 (41)
102nd: -0.364 (43)
103rd: -0.374 (44)
104th: -0.382 (39)
105th: -0.398 (38)
106th: -0.406 (37)
107th: -0.408 (42)
108th: -0.410 (40)
109th: -0.415 (42)
110th: -0.420 (46)
111th: -0.435 (53)

It is also worth noting that the current decade has equaled the 1930's and 1960's for Democratic strength outside of the south.

3. The middle of the Senate
Means don't tell you much about the possibility of passing legislation.  For that, medians are required.  Here is a look at the DW-Nominate score for the 51st vote in the Senate from 1961 to 2010:

51st Senate vote, DW-Nominate, 1961-2010

Light blue signifies Democratic control of Senate and White House; purple signifies split control, bright red signifies Republican control

These numbers show pretty clearly that the 1960's were indeed the peak decade for the possibility of progressive legislation.  With a Democrat in the White House, and the 51st vote consistently in the range of 0.1 to 0.2, there was fertile ground for the passage of Great Society legislation.  It is only in 2009 that the opportunity surpassed that of the 1960's.  Claire McCaskill is easily the most left-leaning 51st vote of all time.

However, as we all know, 51 votes don't seem to matter much these days.  So, here is a look at the 60th vote in the Senate from 1961-2010:

60th Senate vote, DW-Nominate, 1961-2010

(Before 1975, cloture required 67 votes, not 60 votes. The pre-1975 period still looks at the 60-vote threshold for comparison purposes.

With a 60-vote threshold, the current government is not an improvement on past Democratic trifectas.  The 1977-1980 period was comparable to 2009, and the 1963-1968 period is comparable to the post-Massachusetts special election setup.  Having Ben Nelson as the deciding vote is much worse than having Claire McCaskill as the deciding vote.


The bottom line of all this is that even though the Democratic Party has moved to the left, overall the federal government has not, even under a Democratic trifecta.  The main reason for this is that any Democratic movement to the left since the 1960's has been cancelled out by Republican moves to the right.  As such, if we want a more progressive government, it will require not just more and better Democrats, but also better Republicans. Given the control the conservative movement has over the Republican Party these days, that is an extremely tall task.  However, the continuing decline of moderate Republicans has, to date, made it impossible to elect a Senate further to the left of what this country experienced even 45 years ago.

Chris Bowers :: Party Ideological Trends, Senate, 1931-Current

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I Wouldn't Say This "Confirms Conventional Wisdom" (4.00 / 8)
Since the Northern Democrats have moved only slightly compared to everyone else since the late 50s:

Liberal Democrats are not the cause of polarization.  They are not "equally responsible."  They are not responsible at all, except in the same sense that the North was "responsible for the Civil War."  Meaning not at all.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Those charts are so interesting. (4.00 / 1)
Thank you for taking the time to insert them into these discussions.  It's a really helpful way to stay oriented, and since they reveal elements that aren't fully in concert with the data Chris is presenting, it makes us reach deeper for an understanding.  Much appreciated, Paul.

[ Parent ]
Cool chart (4.00 / 1)
Looks like my basic points were already available in a chart someone else made. That was time well spent on my part. :)

Where did you get it? I'd love a link.

[ Parent ]
It's From The Website For The Book "Polarized America" (0.00 / 0)

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
this doesn't show anything about causation, progressives winning or otherwise (4.00 / 2)
similarly, the huffington post article ignores that the very existence of the possibility of intramural fights with conservatives within the democratic party is a huge progressive victory.  the reason why so much money from every caucus was going to securing a democratic majority was because some of the most rightwing politicians in recent memory were in power until 2 years ago.  

so now that that's over, we can actually begin a more substantive battle that huffington post describes - it's a snapshot in a long war - but not as long as you say - it's more the next 10 years.  not a given that we'll win, but i would suspect we will, because that's how american politics has worked.  of course, as we all know from the financial crisis, relying too much on short term trends - even decades long short term trends - without easoning is not reliably reliable.

And if that second battle is won, some of the more left leaning disputes at open left will actually be disputes in the policy world :)  And I think it will be.

and if that third battle is won, then radicals and the mroe left progressives will fight - but I'm not sure if that's possible :)

and it will all be worthwhile (and only possible!) if society comes along for the ride :)

[ Parent ]
whoops - that was meant to go in reply to the huffington post thread (4.00 / 1)

[ Parent ]
The math (4.00 / 1)
If you guys are going to keep citing DW-Nominate scores, you're going to have to do a bit more work understanding the math behind them.  The algorithm simply assigns legislators and bills positions on a line such that, for each bill, you want the people on one side all to vote for it and the people on the other all to vote against it.  That's all Nominate does.  There are a few reasons why it matters how it works:

1) If both the bills and the people all move rightward, you would still get exactly the same scores for everyone as before, since it's all normalized to [-1,1].  This is not an unusual thing to happen, since the bills are being proposed by the legislators, and thus would move along with them.

2) If "Southern Democrats" lose their right-most members (who become Republicans), they will appear to have moved left as a group, even though no member has actually changed position.

3) As the parties sort themselves out (right-wing Democrat regions becoming Republican, and vice versa), the votes become more polarized by party: you get more bills where all D's vote for and all R's vote against, or vice versa.  Since Nominate is normalized to [-1,1] for each year,* if there were perfect party-line voting, you would get a 1 for each Democrat and a - 1 for each Republican; and as the voting becomes more party-line, it trends toward that - 1/1 polarization.  That means that, as the partisanship increases, completely independent of real ideology, every member will appear to move towards the left or right extreme, based only on the vote-based algorithm behind Nominate.  This is the most important point regarding, say, non-Southern Democrats moving leftward (as Bowers suggests).  When both sides vote more along party lines, everyone will appear to move rightward/leftward, no matter what is happening with their real ideological views.

I (now) know that Paul Rosenberg has a copy of Polarized America; you guys might want to read over the sections on methodology and sorting with a slightly more skeptical eye.

[* I've glossed over a few nuances of the DW part for clarity here.]

[ Parent ]
One more point (0.00 / 0)
Regarding (3), on the middle of the Senate.  Say there are 51 Democrats and 49 Republicans.  As votes become more party-line, those 51 Democrats will all have scores that move towards 1, and - 1 for the Republicans.  As that happens, the score of the median member of the Senate (who has not changed in this scenario) will appear to move leftward, until the median score is eventually a solid 1.  But again, ideology has not changed at all; it's just in how polarized voting determines the Nominate scores.

[ Parent ]
Agreed - this needs much more thought (0.00 / 0)
My general understanding of DW Nominate is in line with yours.

But - speaking as a statistical dabbler, the math that produces the numbers is pretty horrendous.

And, like all statistical models, it will come with a range of assumptions: those who do not fully understand the model will find it hard to appreciate the scope of such assumptions and the consequences of their being violated.

Part of the reason, I suspect, why DW Nominate has become the market leader in roll call stats has been the very fact that industrial strength math is needed to devise alternatives, and so folks don't angst much about making DW Nominate do all the work. (There are alternatives, I believe.)

Pending further research, I'd want to treat any conclusions on secular movements in Congressional ideology as provisional.

[ Parent ]
Chris ... (4.00 / 2)
I suppose you've seen the HuffPo story that dkmich excerpts over on QH .... have any reaction to that? .. because that story leads me to believe that what you are writing here isn't true .. especially how even Emily's List recruits the most conservative candidates possible .. and then wonders why they get stabbed in the back(although it helps with fund raising I am sure) .. basically it comes down to ... corporate cash is making Congress more conservative ... not more Progressive .. most people don't wanna rock the status quo .. especially those scummy Blue Dogs

Boy, don't get me started.... (4.00 / 2)
I'm in AZ-1. Yesterday Emily's list called me for a contribution for Ann Kirkpatrick. Ann is a strong supporter of the right to choose, and she did finally vote for HCR, but in every other way, she might as well be a Republican. Even though I'm a Democrat committed to getting Democrats elected, including Ann (our last representative was Rick Renzi, who reminded me of Spiro Agnew) this still burns me up.

I'm a clinical example, I suppose, of the schizophrenic jitters which afflict many Democrats these days -- at least those genuinely on the left. Talk about the contradictions of capitalism -- sheesh. (And please, those of you who want to yell at me to go green, or smash the state, or, more politely, to show the courage of my convictions, spare me. I've made my bed, and I'm gonna lie in it. The rest of you can do what you want, and God bless you.)

[ Parent ]
This is sort of my reaction to that (4.00 / 2)
I wrote the post yesterday to help provide context on that piece. Wanted to show that progressives were winning the fight for the party, over the long-term.

Haven't found the time to read all of the HuffPo piece yet, though. Looks really good.

[ Parent ]
Reform the Senate rules. (4.00 / 3)
" As such, if we want a more progressive government, it will require not just more and better Democrats, but also better Republicans."

This assumes the continued need for a supermajority, yes?  If we ditch the filibuster (or adapt some variant which can ultimately be ended with 51 votes) the Republican party becomes irrelevant so long as we can hold a majority of seats with a little margin for error.

True enough. (4.00 / 1)
...if we want a more progressive government, it will require not just more and better Democrats, but also better Republicans.

As an independent/unaffiliated I've considered registering as a Republican because they "need me" more than the Democrats do.

You could wonder about what a similar "breakout" of the Republicans would look like in the graph Paul offers, but when I go back and look at Paul's charts for Beliefs About Obama by Ideology, I suspect there might not be much of a spread at all.  

Those Southern Democrats really are in a class by themselves and have been for awhile.  That decade between 1939 and 1949 is one I need to better understand and think about more deeply.

that's not the only way to make the republcians more liberal (4.00 / 2)
in fact, i would argue it's the wrong way.  I think a leftward pull on both parties is what's needed.  That will result, i think, in people who previously were 'independents' in between the two parties feeling that the democratic party has 'gone too far to the left and is unrecognizable' and feel more welcome in the republican party.

You can see the opposite effect in terms of the number of prominent former Republicans who are now officially or in practice Democrats (e.g. Chafee).  This is what creates the contrast between two views:

voters who were contented democrats 20 years ago but feel it's too far to the right now, voters who were independents before but feel the Republicans have 'gone crazy' and the Democrats are more 'reasonable' and are now becoming Democrats, previously Republican voters gone silent or tentatively moved towards the center; fringe Republican voters taking over the Republican party or just going nuts outside of it.


The Democratic Party is 'the left' party and the Republican party is the 'right' party, the Democrats and all they do is by definition 'liberal' and the republicans and all tehy do is by definition 'conservative.'

These two views of what's going on are wholly at odds with each other.  The second is entirely wrong but is an organizing myth of the media and more broadly and perniciously of American political culture.  The first one is the tale of the tortured voter who has to decide between their own hearts and the constant inundation of the second view from all angles.

that is, i think, the american party system.

[ Parent ]
An Equally Revealing Chart (4.00 / 3)
From another diary by Chris, Want to reduce political polarization? Then reduce income inequality or go to a one-party system:

I could not reverse engineer the graph to find the article in which this graph appears (so no context) but the graph suggests a strong connection between income inequality and political polarization. These factors track each other. Strong income inequality suggests that both parties will polarize more.

On the Democratic side, however, it seems the party focus is on traditional Republican constituencies: wealth, Wall Street, and giant corporations. Despite the liberal shift shown in the DW-Nominate scores. Perhaps there is a disconnect there. Or perhaps we're simply in the midst of a transition that reducing income inequality would reinforce towards liberal policies.

Pressler (0.00 / 0)
Larry Pressler (SD) was a Republican, not a Democrat. However, he did have one of the more interesting ideological movements. When he was elected in 1972 his House DWNominate score was 0.049. His Senate DWNominate score in his last term was 0.384.

I was digging around the South Dakota's numbers and I did find this, which I found interesting:

House DWNominate Scores
Tom Daschle (1979-1987) : -0.209
Tim Johnson (1987-1997) : -0.217 (Average)
Stephanie Herseth (2004-) : -0.214

Senate DWNominate Scores
Tom Daschle (1987-2005) : -0.380
Tim Johnsn (1997-) : -0.327 (Average)

Is this push away from the "center" common for House-to-Senate members?

The shift for Johnson and Daschle is big (0.00 / 0)
The numbers you point out suggest that the DWNominate scores may be strongly influenced by "voting discipline." That is, in the house, members are expected to vote with their leadership, but not so much in the senate.

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

[ Parent ]
understanding the data- for skeptics like me (4.00 / 1)
Summary of this paper included below:

This academic paper, too is, ironically, somewhat math-reasoning dependent :) but not as much and it does explain effectively to a lay reader to an extent how the model on which this data is based works.

For those who don't want to try to follow math/ quantitative poli sci reasoning, some takeaways from the article are:

On a given issue, there is an 'ideal point' for every legislator on a vote:

For instance, if a legislator prefers one level of appropriation for defense -- say amoderate hawk really likes appropriating $300 billion for the current fiscal year -- she probably would not be happy with a $250 billion appropriation, and she would be even lesshappy with a $200 billion appropriation, and so forth. Likewise, this legislator might thinkthat a $400 billion appropriation is foolish, and that $500 billion is even more foolish than$400 billion. This legislator has a most preferred level, in other words, and then "around"that most preferred level are increasingly less desirable alternatives in either direction, up ordown, more less.

If you take all the votes of the legislators and all the votes that have been held, you can try to create a "map" that fits the big picture the best (pp. 11 to 15 or so)  What this looks like is if it's politics with two basic issues (e.g. economics and race) is something like political compass where every person gets a dot in a space with two perpendicular lines - one for each issue.  What it looks like in politics with one dimension is that every person gets a dot on the line somewhere.


there is a take roll call vote information and estimatewhether legislators are "to the right" on the whole or "to the left" on the whole.

What they have to do then is come up with a 'map' that works best for all the legislators and all the votes at the same time.  That is what they have tried to do, basically by trying to use a computer algorithm to create the map that is most accurate based on the actual votes of the actual legislators.

But you have to know how to use this stuff in interpreting it:

Key limitation:

It can't be stressed enough that these scores are not "true values" of anything real. They are merely estimates of (legislators') parameter values that govern a probability model used toapproximate a non-random, real-life process. The thinking is that if the model can be madeto generate outcomes like those of the real process, then the fitted parameters of the model may tell us something about the real people and questions involved.

(i.e. it's a model).

Key strength:

they are very useful to political scientists

Implications of the data:

1) adds value to existing knowledge:

The basic answer to this particular "so what?" issue -- what's the value added of all thiscomplicated math? -- is that Poole and Rosenthal achieved precise estimates for allCongresses and all legislators. ADA and ACU scores don't go back very far, after all. To put itanother way, APD scholars now have a huge data set that they can and ought to start using if theyhave questions about Congress and -- and in -- American political evolution.

2) a) politicians are consistent

legislators' scores do not change. Once a liberal, always a liberal.Once a conservative, always a conservative. Once a moderate, always a moderate.Legislators do change their minds, John Kerry style, often going back and forth on thesame issue, so NOMINATE allows for the possibility that a legislator's ideal point may moveover time, from one Congress to the next. What Poole and Rosenthal found, though, is thatmost legislators hardly move at all, and any movement is basically slow and steady, withoutsudden erratic jumps.

b) which means that you need to get rid of the bums:

The great significance of this finding is that it theoretically restricts the number and kind of change mechanisms in American politics.  What happens in Congress depends considerably on replacing the legislators.

3) a) American politics as modeled this way basically revolves around one dimension (issue) most of the time:

except for very brief periods, such as the periodimmediately before the Civil War, when in fact the U.S. approached being an ungovernable country,American politics exhibits "low dimensionality" -- by which they mean no more than two dimensions.This an astonishing finding, if you think about it carefully. American politics fairly boils withnew issues all the time, and it always has. Socially and economically it is exceptionallydynamic. Indeed, Samuel P. Huntington memorably pointed out that there is a greatparadox in American politics: it is one of the most socially and dynamic countries in theworld, and yet its political system is relatively unchanged from the Founding, despite theCivil War, the New Deal, and the Great Society. Furthermore, that system itself isinstitutionally a late medieval system -- what Huntington dubbed "the Tudor Polity."Paradoxically, the Tudor Polity has endured while society and the economy have changeddramatically.

b) the content of the two "issues" (e.g. economics, race) is not taken from the model - the model says nothing about them, or which is "left" which is "right" what is "good" what is "bad" - for that, Poole and others at NOMINATE relied on things like "political history andlooking at the specific content of the roll calls" to come up with economic conflict and race relations.  


By now it should be clear that Poole and Rosenthal...have done something that should set the agenda of the subfield [of American Political Development], not completely of course, but certainly more thanwe have seen up to this point.


The site of Poole and others who created this model is also helpful in trying to understand the model better:

Low Dimensionality Is A Common Artifact (4.00 / 1)
After all, a body dominated by two parties is going to have most of its issue voting patterns determined by the polarity between those two parties.

It's also worth noting that the data files capture error rates as well.  So you can see how many times people voted out of their expected ranking.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
this gets to the heart of what i don't understand (or would criticise) about the model (4.00 / 1)
namely, how does one fill the model with meaning from the real world.  Even if you grant that the model accurately depicts the structure of the political system, it doesn't inherently tell you anything about the content - left could be right and good could be bad.  if a point '0' on an axis represents 'the middle', what does that mean in terms of issues?  without knowing that, it is difficult to discern what, if anything, it means if a politician is -0.315 of that middle.

To evaluate your claim, it would be useful to look at comparative context (specifically multiparty systems that are relatively stable).  I think Poole and others have done that for some other countries, but I don't know for sure because I haven't been exposed to them until yesterday.

The authors of the paper I cited make the argument that low dimensionality is not an artefact but a characteristic of a functioning political system - they argue that more than two dimensions results in ungovernability, which makes sense, because you could potentially have 8 main factions rather than just 4 (with two dimensions) or 2 (with one dimension).  

[ Parent ]
It All Depends (0.00 / 0)
on what you call "a functioning political system".

What I meant by calling it an artifact is that the legislative/electoral structure constrains the diversity of dimensions of significant difference.  It doesn't necessarily mean that those differences go away, they just don't come into play.  Those differences may persist in the wider population but it's in the interests of the parties and institutions close to them to submerge those differences.

The authors of the paper are focused on what might happen to governing systems with greater dimensionality.  I'm more concerned with the signal loss involved in compressing everything into so few dimensions.

When you open up decisionmaking to serious public comment, you can see examples of the greater complexity that's normally screened out, and on ocassion you can even see examples of the superior decisionmaking that comes out of taking a multitude of different dimensions into account.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
i agree (0.00 / 0)
and pretty much everyone i agree with has thoughts of this kind that can be described as 'socialist libertarian' or along the way there from traditional political liberalism.  thanks for putting them so succinctly in terms of the aggregate - my friends who experience it in the personal b/c of multiple identities that are really felt are so hurt and damaged by the kind of 'flattening' that it is almost awe-inspiring to see this cogent an articulation of why it happens.

You have encapsulated diversity far better than i ever could! :)

[ Parent ]
This is fraught with serious methodological flaws (4.00 / 1)
First, you seem to think that there's a coherent idea "left" and "right" extending into the past that can be understood through mere roll call votes when they say absolutely nothing about the content of policy and terms of implementation.  

Beyond that, there's the problem of changing sectional partisan allegiances, their relation to shifts in the nation's political economy more broadly and the way this influences legislative agendas and the way political parties frame responses to pressing issues in competing for votes.

You realize you're saying that since the collapse of the labor movement, the Democratic party has moved to the left.  This is complete nonsense.  

I could go on.  This is a very important subject.  In this particular case, however, your approach doesn't do it justice.    

You nailed it (0.00 / 0)
I appreciate the good intentions behind the effort to quantify liberalism, but if I'm not mistaken, the DW-Nominate scores make judgments about what's "liberal" and what's not.  Of course, the question of what's liberal isn't always Yes/No, and we don't always agree.  For example, I don't consider Obamacare to really be "liberal", and I don't know how I'd classify the votes there.  It's certainly not comparable to Medicare.

[ Parent ]
are these ratings self-contained? (4.00 / 1)
I've read both of these posts for this topic, but I still can't quite figure these stats out.
Are these ratings self-contained within each party Congress?  By which I mean, is Russ Feingold really getting compared to Birch Bayh, or is he just being compared to Evan Bayh, and then that score is compared to one compiled by Birch Bayh during his term?
Because while I appreciate all the work Chris did, this finding violates common sense.  I agree with wobbly that the idea that Senate Democrats are more economically liberal now that the labor movement is so much weaker fails the logic test.  Would the 1948 Dems or the 1968 Dems have been too scared to push labor law?  Heck, labor law reform even got a vote under Carter...
In the mid-60s, the Congress passed the Great Society, even with Southern Democrats.  It passed Medicare (public health care), not the current private insurance reform.  The liberal wing of the party actively and publicly fought with a Democratic President over a war.  It founded the Office of Economic Opportunity, which gave poor people new funding and new participatory rights.  It started the conservation movement, without the need for Rube Goldberg-like cap-and-trade giveaways.  After Earth Day in 1970, which Senator Gaylord Nelson helped to start with Denis Hayes, the Congress founded the EPA--under Nixon!  Contrast that with this year's Dems, who are actively considering taking away EPA's power to regulate carbon.
Maybe it's just because I'm getting old (59 this year), but can today's Senate Democrats really compare with the Senate of 4 decades ago?  Fred Harris, George McGovern, Gaylord Nelson, Frank Church, Vance Hartke, Abe Ribicoff, Robert Kennedy?  Frank Moss from Utah?  Wyoming elected a Ph.D. Dem, Gale McGee, fairly conservative but not compared to today's lame GOPs. Heck, compare Leader Mike Mansfield to Harry Reid?  And this is just from memory.

Totally agree (0.00 / 0)
The idea that non-Southern Democrats are more liberal now than before is undermined by the fact that the very definition of liberalism is a lot LESS liberal now than it was back in the 1960s.

[ Parent ]

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