Toward A Pluralist Strategy

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Jul 11, 2007 at 17:40


Starting with a series of three posts back in early April 2005, The Future of the Electorate, The Future of the Electorate, Part Two, and Maybe It Is A Battle Of Civilizations, for a little over two years now I have argued that a pluralistic vs. monoculture vision of identity politics, specifically based largely in ethnicity and religion, is the fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican coalitions both now, and probably for the foreseeable future. For those of you unfamiliar with the argument, or those of you who simply have not seen me deliver it lately, here is a quick summary (please reference the three articles linked above for citation on any statistics):
Chris Bowers :: Toward A Pluralist Strategy
  1. Whites who self-identify as non-Christian (Jewish, no religion, or other religion) vote for Democrats at roughly the same 70-75% rate as do non-whites. As such, the current Democratic coalition is by far the most diverse ever assembled in the history of American politics. For example, in 2006, according to exit polls, 89% of African-American voters, 87% of Jewish voters, 75% of GLBT voters, 74% of non-religious voters, 71% of voters with an “other” (non-Christian, non-Jewish) religion, 69% of Latino voters, and 62% of Asian-American voters chose the Democratic candidate for US House. Every single one of these numbers either breaks, or closely approaches, the all-time Democratic performance record with each group. Basically, if there is a minority in this country, not only did it vote for Democrats, but it did so by a super-majority. In fact, roughly 60% of all Democratic voters fit into at least one of the demographic groups listed above, compared to about only 20% of Republican voters. Thus, the quickest, if perhaps over generalized, way to summarize the difference between the two major political coalitions in America is a majority white Christian coalition (Republicans), and a majority non-white and / or non-Christian coalition (Democrats). This is a trend that has been taking place for some time. In 2006, Democrats won the non-White Christian vote 74%--25%. In 2004, Kerry won the non-White Christian vote 68%--31%. In 2000, Gore won the non-White Christian vote 68%--27%. Overall, Democrats have not won a majority of the white Christian vote in a presidential election since 1964.

  2. The difference in the levels of diversity between the two major coalitions is not an accident, but instead the direct result of the values espoused, and actions undertaken by, each group. Starting with opposition to the 1964 Civil Right’s Act, Republicans successfully broke the New Deal coalition through an uninterrupted series of appeals to the national majority culture at the expense of a minority scapegoat. This has included, but is not limited to, all of the following: race-baiting opposition to affirmative action, vehement campaigning against gay marriage and all forms of GLBT rights, the war on drugs, the war on terror and terms like “Islamofacism,” overtly cultural supremacist campaigning on immigration, Willie Horton and fear-mongering about crime, the latent anti-Semitism in the great backlash narrative against “liberal elites,” the war on Christmas and alarmist warnings about the removal of religion from public life. While not necessarily always champions for the minorities scapegoated in each of these attacks, Democrats have frequently provided an alternative on each of these issues that is far more open and pluralistic, thus leading to their overwhelming electoral advantage among all of the scapegoated groups.

  3. While Republicans were able to break the New Deal coalition through these mono-culture appeals, changing American demographics resulted in this strategy containing the seeds of its own eventual defeat. Non-whites and / or non-Christians represent more than 100% of American population growth. Further, while 65% of Americans born before 1965 self-identify as white Christian, only 41% of Americans born between 1965 and 1994 self-identify as white Christian (if you want to know why young voters are so pro-Democrat, that is why). Thus, Bill O’Reilly’s worst nightmare comes to pass. America is currently undergoing a profound, and broadly based, cultural shift that holds the potential not only for a sustainable, long-term Democratic governing majority, but also for a more progressive and pluralistic society. At some point in the next ten years or fifteen years, America will no longer be a majority white Christian nation. A few years later, probably in 2024, and certainly by 2028, the American electorate will no longer be majority white Christian. Given this, if maintained, or even expanded, the Democratic advantage within each of the ethnic and religious minorities listed above will lead to a long-term Democratic governing majority over the next two or three decades.
So, that is the gist of my big picture demographic analysis on the current state of, and emerging future of, the American electorate. Please note that by pointing out this cultural and demographic shift in America, I am not assigning it positive or negative values (or, at least I am not trying to do so). Instead, I am simply just trying to point out that it is happening. Also, whenever I pursue this avenue of investigation, several commenters also point out that there are plenty of progressive and / or Democratic white Christians, and such groups shouldn’t be written off. I agree wholeheartedly, and that it not what I am trying to do here. Rather, after thinking about this transformation for a number of years, I wish to better understand its causes and, from that point, recommend avenues of action for Democrats and progressives to ensure that it continues unabated. After two years of doing little more than writing about this trend, it seems to me that launching a new website is as good a time as any to take this analysis to the next level. Instead of just writing about this demographic shift, what specific recommendations can be made to ensure that Democrats and progressive maintain their pluralist advantage, and thus allow this potentially long-term, sustainable majority manifest itself? In other words, what is “the pluralist strategy” for Democrats and progressives?

We are in desperate need of such a strategy. If Democrats are receiving more than two-thirds of the vote from the demographic and cultural groups that represent more than 100% of American population growth, it is not much of a stretch to start envisioning a long-term, Democratic governing majority. In the 2006 elections, we already witnessed the potential of this coalition, both with Democrats retaking Congress and with House Democrats scoring 60% of the vote among voters under 30, an extremely diverse generation at the front-line of this transformation. Why are Democrats performing so well among these groups, and what can be done to make certain that Democrats continue to perform well among these groups? Here are some preliminary ideas:
  1. Target Republican moderates. This might seem somewhat counter-intuitive, especially when starting a new website that aims to foreground partisanship to a lesser degree than MyDD. Wouldn’t it be better if there were a broad progressive coalition that included members of both major parties, thus allowing progressive ideas to potentially be passed even under Republican administrations? In this case, I am not convinced, since the rise of the pluralistic coalition was accomplished largely through the conservative movement’s dominance of the Republican Party. Religious and ethnic minorities were turned off by the cultural supremacist elements of the Republican Party just as much, if not more so, than they were turned on by any aspect of the Democratic Party. It thus seems reasonable that the best way to ensure the continued coherence of what I will tentatively call “The Pluralist Coalition” would be to remove the more open, tolerant and pluralist elements from the opposing, conservative coalition. Targeting Republican moderates would give the conservative movement an even greater stranglehold over the Republican Party, thus making it even less appealing to ethnic and religious minorities.

  2. Never, ever turn right-wing on immigration. In yesterday’s post on the relatively poor performance of Democratic women running for U.S. House, I mentioned that multiple inside sources had told me Rahm Emanuel, and a few other members of the Democratic electoral elite, thought that Democratic women needed to outflank Republicans from the right on immigration in order to win. If you are looking to find a “self-destruct” button in this emerging Democratic and progressive majority, that seems like a pretty good option to try out. Encouraging Democratic candidates for US House to become aggressively anti-immigrant it about the best way I can imagine to make the Democratic coalition seem less open and less tolerant, thus driving down our numbers among ethnic minorities. Further, I seriously doubt it would even result in a few more victories in the short-term. Hopefully, this isn’t actually a widespread position among the Democratic electoral elite, or at least a position that any major Democratic candidates will adopt based on their advice.

  3. Stop looking for “Sistah Souljah” moments, and start attacking. Since 1992 never ended for many neoliberals and DLC-nexus types, it has become virtually gospel that in order to win national elections, or at least be taken credibly on the national stage, Democrats must themselves engage in scapegoating, calling out, or otherwise distancing themselves from supposed “extremist” minorities in their own party. This may have been necessary back when conservative mono-culture tactics had led to numerous Republican landslide victories in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but it is no longer necessary now that the demographic and cultural situation in America favors Democrats. Instead of calling each other out, what progressives need to do now is take better advantage of the numerous opportunities presented in public statements of conservative and Republican extremism. For example, a few months ago, Rep. Don Young of Alaska said that those who oppose the American presence in Iraq should be should be "arrested, exiled, or hanged." Not exactly a shining example of tolerance and pluralism, but Democrats did virtually nothing to take advantage of that statement. The problem is that we live in a media culture where calling out the Don Young’s of the world has little incentive, while calling out liberals and progressives is heavily incentivized. That needs to change if Democrats wish to press their diversity advantage.

  4. Govern Progressively. Beyond all of the other suggestions already listed, above all else a key for Democrats will be to actually govern in a way that makes the lives of ethnic and religious minorities better in this country. This actually connects to a wide range of policy areas—universal health care, improved public education, immigration policy, lowered transportation costs, etc.—that will also make the lives of pretty much all Americans better. If, for example, a Democratic trifecta were to pass universal health care legislation in 2010, or thereabouts, and if they were to do so against vehement Republican objections, huge swaths of the electorate would become loyal Democrats and progressives for a long time. The New Deal coalition was built largely by implementing legislation that improved the lives of the vast majority of Americans. Any long-term, sustainable governing majority is required to do the same thing. The Republican majority coalition was not sustainable, simply because it was not making many people’s lives better.
This is just a quick sketch of some ideas on how to press the progressive and Democratic advantage on pluralism. I would like to hear any ideas you might have. Also, I want to note that I keep emphasizing Democratic and progressive, because it is very hard for me to imagine such a diverse coalition somehow being a moderate one. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is extremely diverse, for example, and it seems very much to represent the demographic trends of America as a whole. Thus, moving toward a pluralist strategy not only strikes me as moving toward a strategy that will be successful in the electoral realm, but also toward bring a progressive Democratic governing majority, not just any Democratic governing majority, to life.

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Couple of thoughts (4.00 / 1)
On the history - the CRA of 64 only passed before of GOP senators and Dirksen's efforts to keep enough of them in line to beat the filibuster. They had a northern contingent who needed Negro (or white liberal) votes back then, of course. But the Taftite wing weren't, from memory, viscerally hostile to civil rights reforms.

Coming up to date: I wonder whether there's any research on the question whether Hispanics are likely to evolve electorally like European ethnics (Irish, Italians, Poles)  - moving from tribal loyalty to the Dems towards a more class-based partisan adherence - or will more resemble the black and Jewish vote, skewing heavily Dem, regardless of class or income.

If atheism favors the Dems among white demos, what influence does it have with the affiliation of Hispanics?


Hispanic & Asian-American Religion (0.00 / 0)
The rates for Christianity and church attendance are pretty well polled among African-Americans.  And their social conservatism on issues like school prayer have been noted.  But I've yet to see a strong amount of literature into religion in other minority communities, particularly Hispanics and Asian-Americans. 

[ Parent ]
No direct connection (4.00 / 1)
The diversity int he Dem coalition is built largely by people feeling they don't have a home elsewhere. Devout Catholic Latinos might not seem they have a lot in common with secular white liberals, except that they are both vehemently hated by cons. And that makes a big difference.

[ Parent ]
excellent (0.00 / 0)

that sounds very good

very good diary. one of your best.

I write at Plural Politics


Overall a vvery good post, it's just this one thing... (0.00 / 0)
Further, while 65% of Americans born before 1965 self-identify as white Christian, only 41% of Americans born between 1965 and 1994 self-identify as white Christian (if you want to know why young voters are so pro-Democrat, that is why).

I have to question the causal relationship you're implying here.  Without other evidence, the fact that youth are less self-identifying as christian and Democrats are attracting non-christians doesn't show causation, only co-occurance.  To make this a bit more concrete, it is possible that the cause of the increasing dem lean in youth is from a liberalization of many members of all religious groups within the youngest voting segment, resulting in an equal representation of white christian youth voting Dem as the general portion of youth who are white christian.(I would like to stress I have no idea if this is true, it just simply fits inside the data presented and I'm trying to point out a bit of logic...)

Anyway, pardon the logic nitpicking, but these sorts of subtleties are important when analyzing stats. 

Overall though, great post, very interesting points.

I'm glad it's done


Statistics are a funnty thing. (4.00 / 1)
Correlation does not mean Causality. A-test (non guilty are hopefully not jailed) and B-test (Guilty are GD it are jailed, hopefully - Screw the innocent.) 

"They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

[ Parent ]
Re (0.00 / 0)
I think we need to know how many of that 41% actively supports Democrats.

[ Parent ]
I agree (0.00 / 0)
I can't prove that is the direct reason, but it certainly seems highly likely that is the reason. It would be particularly strange if white Christians under 30 were significantly more pro-Dem than white Christians over 30, and while simultaneously non-white Christians under 30 were less pro-Dem.

[ Parent ]
Sustaining a progressive majority--long comment (4.00 / 1)
Thank you, Chris, for a very good diary.  My first thoughts about strategy, before getting to your four ideas, fell mainly in the "govern progressively" category.  Democrats need to offer strong leadership on issues such as universal health care, education, economic security, energy, clean air and water, and other issues that touch most people's lives. 

As we do so, we need to express clearly the core theories behind these issues, so that it is clear that we stand on principle, not just for a list of issues.  Just today I heard Thom Hartmann do this beautifully, challenging a caller who claimed that the only or primary purpose of government was to defend against external and domestic threats, and that the private market should do pretty much everything else.  Hartmann was respectful but stated his basic philosophical disagreement, appealing to the purposes stated in the preamble to the Constitution ("to form a more perfect union" "establish justice" and "promote the general welfare" among others), and challenging the caller under he melted into a puddle of self-contradictory backpeddling and equivocation.

We need to make a clear case for the value of pluralism itself.  When Madison expressed concern about "factions" in the federalist papers, his concern was not just about the problems of factions disagreeing, but the danger that any one faction would become dominant.  Pluralism was part of his solution--the idea that multiple interests dividing on many lines would hold in check any one faction from dominating the nation.  In a sense, it is another aspect of the emphasis on checks and balances in government which was such a brilliant part of the framing of the Constitution (something under attack today as never before by a renegade and treasonous administration).  We should be fierce in exposing the right wing for its deviation from and corruption of the American principles that have shaped our nation at its best.

We must value and support pluralism in religion especially.  I am convinced that the primary purpose of the "faith based initiative" was to use religion as a wedge to drive enough Christian African Americans to the Republican party to neutralize the African American vote.  I am pleased that the Democratic party represents many religious perspectives, unlike the Republicans, who represent a very narrow range.  I am pleased that we are welcoming of atheists and religious minorities, but we must also be clear that we support the right of all people to worship (or not) as they choose, including evangelical Christians.  This freedom actually requires that government not promote one religion above others.  Just as it is sometimes said, "I may disgree with what you say but I would defend to the death your right to say it," we must say "Even if I disagree with your religious beliefs, I would defend to the death your right to hold those beliefs, and to practice them as long as that does not interfere with the same freedom for others."  We can promote and participate in open and honest debate on religious issues, but we must be clear that the Constitution protects religious freedom for all.

Then, by going back to the core progressive issues that touch all our lives, we may even expand our appeal to currently Republican moderates.  As we speak to those moderates, we need to broaden the language and concept of security so that those who care about it (as many of them do) realize that it includes much more than just military might and anti-terrorism (although these are part of it, too). We are not secure, for example, if we destroy the environment, if our jobs are not secure, if we don't have or can lose access to health care, if we aren't prepared to respond to natural disasters, if globalization makes us dependent on other nations for our basic needs, if we are increasingly hated around the world, and so on.

I also agree with your assessment that to take a right-wing or xenophobic stance on immigration would be self-destructive.  Ours IS the big tent party, and it is big tent not by "moving to the middle" or compromising with narrow right-wing perspectives, but by standing firmly on progressive principles that uphold the rights and value of all people, not just wealthy, white, male-dominant right-wing Christians.  (We'll include them, too--we just won't stand for them to exclude everyone else.)

"The lightning whelk is strong, attractive, capable of growing to be one of the largest shells on the beach--and it opens to the left."


Um, in my second paragraph (0.00 / 0)
near the end, it should have said "until he" not "under he".

And I thought I read it carefully when I previewed it.  Oh, well.

"The lightning whelk is strong, attractive, capable of growing to be one of the largest shells on the beach--and it opens to the left."


[ Parent ]
Core value and core strategy (0.00 / 0)
In some of my earlier drafts of this piece, I identified pluralism as a core value of progressives as well as a core strategy., which I think goes along nicely with what you are saying. I like the idea of of strategy expressing our values, too.  Acting out a pluralistic strategy because we believe in pluralism makes it all the more believable, too.

[ Parent ]
Thanks, I think that's right. (0.00 / 0)
Pluralism is both a value and a strategy.  Pluralism as a value implies our belief in the worth of all people, not only an elite.  Pluralism as a strategy recognizes the danger to democracy of a narrowly-defined segment of the population (even if it is a substantial segment) dominating a political party or the political process.

When the Republicans have been at their most politically effective, they have clearly expressed a core set of theories, principles and values underlying their positions.  Even when those theories have been utter bunk (such as supply-side economics and "free" market privatization as a cure-all), and even when the values have been hypocritical (such as being "pro-life" and "pro-family" while denying health care to children and covering up Republican sex scandals), the mere expression of these ideas made them sound more serious, unified, and forward-looking.  Reagan especially framed these ideas in a way that sounded hopeful and optimistic, even when the policies themselves were actually grounded in a gloomy social Darwinism.

I would hope our own framing would have more integrity than that, and I believe our theories, values and principles are substantively better ones.  There is a narrative to tell about the place of progressive values in our nation's history and future, and we should tell and illustrate that narrative in a way that will inspire trust and action.  The place of pluralism is part of that story.

By the way, Chris, I'm impressed that you're on here responding to comments when you must be exhausted from simply getting the site up.  I can't wait to see how it develops.

"The lightning whelk is strong, attractive, capable of growing to be one of the largest shells on the beach--and it opens to the left."


[ Parent ]
Being latino, and paying close attn to the recent immigration fracas, (0.00 / 0)
i can with relative certainty say that many voting hispanic citizens have actually crossed over from republican to indie/dem as a result of the increasing siege mentality of the republican party. this is particularly notable in higher income brackets, where i have met a (relatively) good deal of hispanic republicans. i've heard enough stories about people who've "had enough" to convince me that republicans have lost the hispanic vote for a generation, and the absolute DUMBEST thing the democrats could do is to let these newly ambivalent voters lose their spark and grow apolitical.

Not Only That (0.00 / 0)
But Fred Thompson's doing his darndest to bring us the Cubans, too!

If we can just kidnap the DLC and hold them in a room somewhere until after the 2008 election, and get Thompson the GOP nomination...

Yum!

"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 ]
It has happened to several groups (0.00 / 0)
Bush won Muslims in 2000, for example, but got crushed in 2004 due to clear anti-Muslim messaging coming from conservatives. Bush I won the vast majority of the Asian-American vote. African-Americans used to be pro-Republican, and then for a while were a swing vote, but that all changed in the 1960's. Time and time again, the conservative base has pushed groups like Latinos out of its coalition. It helped them shore up their position among conservative whites, but now it is biting them in the ass, big time.


It is a nice bit of comuppence, if you ask me.

[ Parent ]
Three Points To Reinforce Chris's Message (4.00 / 1)
(1) On conservatism as a form of identity politics. I wrote a series of posts about this in early 2006.

Pt2: Hard Core Data contains an analysis based on data from Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril's 1967 landmark study, The Political Beliefs of Americans: A Study of Public Opinion, based on surveys done by Gallup in 1964.  The heart of this analysis is reflected in the chart below.  The "operational spectrum" is based on five questions-dealing with federal aid to education, Medicare, the Federal housing program, the urban renewal program, and the government's responsibility to do away with poverty.


As can be seen, there is a consistent relationship here: the more operationally conservative, the greater the percentage saying that blacks, Jews, Catholics and unions (the organized working class) have too much power--a clear indication that conservatism is based on seeing all these groups as "other."  Note: at the time of this survey, there were 4 blacks in Congress, and most blacks in the South couldn't vote.

Thus, what Chris is writing about here is nothing new.  It has historical roots that go back as far as the eyes can see.

(2) On where we are going.  A good snapshot can be found in a survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released last September, "California's Exclusive Electorate" [PDF]

I wrote about it for Random Lengths News in a story  "Two Californias-Voters and Non-Voters":

  If California's non-voters made their voices heard, state policies could be dramatically reoriented in a more progressive direction, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), "California's Exclusive Electorate," written by PPIC research director Mark Baldassare.
  California's electorate is significantly whiter, older, wealthier, and more educated than the population at large. "As its population has become more diverse, its voters have become less representative of that population," the report, notes. "And the difference between voters and nonvoters is especially stark in attitudes toward government's role; elected officials; and many social issues, policies, and programs."

For example:

• Governor Schwarzenegger's reelection chances would plummet. In May 2006, non-voters disapproved far more sharply (61-21 percent) than likely voters (48-42 percent).

• The $3 billion affordable housing bond (Prop 1C) could easily pass: 80 percent of nonvoters support it, versus 49 percent of likely voters in a May poll.

• California could have bigger government and higher taxes: Nonvoters prefer higher taxes/more services to lower taxes/fewer services by a 66-26 percent margin, compared to 49-44 percent among voters.

Thus, in California--and many other states are or soon will be quite similar--one of the simplest things we can do to create a progressive majority is simply to expand the electorate.  Election-day registration is probably the simplest thing that can done in this direction.  But the harder things--creating networks of activist involvement--will pay much deeper dividends in the long run.

(3) On minority priorities as key to progressive governance.  Another California report also has wider implications--that legislation specifically addressing minority needs will have benefits for all Californians.  The report is "FACING RACE: 2006 LEGISLATIVE REPORT CARD ON RACIAL EQUITY" [PDF]. Here's the beginning of my story on the report, which wasn't published online:

Republicans Failing on Racial Equity Scorecard
Whole State Hurt By Ignoring Minorities Needs
By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

  As California's racial and ethinic diversity continues to expand, its still white-dominated political system is increasingly out of touch with the needs of a majority of Californians, which in turn damages the state as a whole.  The popular rhetoric of a "colorblind society" ignores the reality that different racial and ethnic groups face different sets of challenges that others may not even think about. That's one of the key messages contained in "Facing Race," the Applied Research Center's (ARC) 2006 Legislative Report Card On Racial Equity, which tracks voting records on 20 bills.
  What's more, the situation will only grow worse over time, unless conscious steps are taken to make the political system more responsive to the needs of all Californians.
  But another key message is that the first message isn't getting through.  Overall, the state legislature scored a C- while Governor Schwarzenegger got a D. "Despite the Governor's public appeal for compromise, his performance was slightly worse than in 2005," ARC noted.
  On the bright side, thirty-seven Assembly Members and twelve Senators scored a perfect 100 percent. But all were Democrats.
  "We found that partisnaship was by far the largest obsctacle to racial progress, especially when things come to a floor vote," said the report's author Manachem Krajer.  But it doesn't have to be that way, he was quick to point out.
  "We started doing report cards for other states," he added.  "While here ony two or three Republican members passed, in Illinois only two or three failed."
....
  The bills covered in the report card fall into four categories: education equity, economic justice, health equity, and civil rights.  Some are readily identified as minority concerns, such as SB 1580,  Fair Testing For English Language Learners (vetoed by the governor), which would have allowed English language learners to take achievement tests in their primary languiage.
....
  Other bills on the scorecard might not seem like matters of racial equity at all-at least on first glance. Issues such as universal health care, increasing the minimum wage or improving education affect the whole state, but affect communies of color more significantly. For example, the report notes, "Of California's 6.5 million uninsured residents, 71 percent are people of color. Among workers of color, 2.5 million are not provided healthcare benefits." Thus, the governor veto of SB 840, universal health care, was significantly more harmful to communities of color.

A key point here is that conservatives and Republicans have cast racial and ethnic issues in terms of a narrow set of concerns which they've stigmatized as "identity politicsm," but there are actually a whole battery of very down-to-earth reality-based issues that are far more salient to minorities, but would benefit and could appeal to a significant segment of working-class whites as well.  Meaning pretty much anyone who works for a living, even if they're self-employed.

Redefining racial politics this way--in terms of practical solutions to practical problems--could play a decisive role in building a lasting progressive majority.

"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


Your comments are diaries (4.00 / 1)
And good ones at that. Just saying--I sometimes wish I had more of your diaries to read!

[ Parent ]
About a long-term governing majority (4.00 / 1)
I certainly agree that the tides are turning in favor of progressivism, and as you expertly point out, will continue to do so for a while.
But shouldn't we expect the Right to adapt with the times? To find some new way of expanding and strengthening their own coalition? It is not obvious to me how they could broaden their appeal without disrupting their existing base (white christians and the wealthy) - but if there is a way I am sure they will find it. Fortunately, their next best hope, the Latino vote, seems to be rapidly slipping from their grasp.

By the way, fantastic post! And thank god for the colored, godless, queer progressive rabble!

"Don't hate the media, become the media" -Jello Biafra


Not yet (4.00 / 1)
It will take several crushing defeats before change sets in. The DLC didn't arise, for example, until after the 1984 election. After parties are repeatedly crushed on the electoral stage, they often are forced to transform themselves. It remains to be seen if the same thing will happen to Republicans.

[ Parent ]
Obama (0.00 / 0)
would definitely strengthen the Democratic Party's appeal as "pluralist," particulary for young voters and young voters to come.

I haven't picked my candidate - I'm just sayin'


He certainly would (0.00 / 0)
I also think that the diversity of the top four Democratic candidates (top four according to polls and money) helps out quite a bit. A woman, a Latino, an African-American. A westerner, a midwesterner, a southern and a northeasterner. The more exposure the four of them get, the better. It is a very diverse group.

[ Parent ]
Great Post (0.00 / 0)
Chris, I'm happy to see the new blog, and I will continue to read any blog where you're posting.  Perhaps the best commentary out there, blogosphere or otherwise.

But I wouldn't ignore the capability of the Republican Party to adapt, react, maybe even evolve (:gasp:).  If Democrats are increasingly the party of non-whites and non-Christians, and the country is increasingly non-white and non-Christian, the Republican will either adapt, or shrink to such an insignificance whatever divides exist within the Democratic Party will become more important . . . perhaps to the point of breaking into two parties.

Some concerns . . .

A trend of white Christians out of the Democratic Party, something that has been happening for a while and could well continue among the last major hold out: white Catholics.  Would this have a serious threat to the hold the Democratic Party has in some Midwestern states?

If the exodus began with white Protestants, then white Catholics, could the rise of more secular, non-Christian whites in the Democratic Party encourage over time non-white Christians to begin to leave?  It may not be because of faith issues, the rise of non-Christian whites in the Democratic Party may also influence the party's stance on other issues appealing to minorities, such as affirmative action.


It is a concern (0.00 / 0)
And it may very well continue. One real possibility is for this split to grow even wider, and for Republicans to do even better among groups like White Catholics.

At that point, much would depend on the rate at which the shifts occur. Would the exodus of White Catholics be canceled out by our gains in other areas? Hopefully. More hopefully, the exodus would stop, and Dems would either hold stable, or start to improve, among White Catholics as well.

[ Parent ]
Some elements of a pluralist strategy. (0.00 / 0)
Consistently, GOP electoral strategy involves pointing out who Blacks (or other non-whites) are voting for and encouraging whites to vote for the other candidate. To put it another way: GOP appeals are fairly consistently directed at (many) whites' desire to deny non-whites representation and political power (a desire which is different, more subtle, but no less devastating than outright racism). As you point out, we have now, for the first time, the opportunity to turn the tables on them by strengthening a nascent coalition of now-majority minorities.

Some ideas for how:

  1. The Democratic Party should explicitly identify itself with the principle of equality, which represents, in a word, the unifying aspiration of non-whites, as well as of women.

  2. Successful pluralism requires that if a substantial majority within any one group have a strong objection to a policy, then that policy cannot go forward, even if the overall majority is in favor. Democrats need to understand this, and we need to enforce the principle within our own ranks. That means we turn our backs on advocates of policies-- such as tougher immigration laws and ending affirmative action-- not just because they are reactionary, but because they are divisive, i.e., specifically because they are widely unacceptable to a group within the coalition.

  3. Democrats need to take action, all the way down to the local club level, to promote engagement and leadership by Black, Latino, and Asian members so that the Party becomes truly representative of that coalition.


Register Latinos (4.00 / 1)
Chris, wouldn't it be a smart Chairman Dean/Democratic Party strategy just to massively register the 5 million unregistered Latinos who are already citizens?  Especially during a period, as pointed out, when the Republicans are pushing off on Latinos so severely?

Not Culture, Economy (0.00 / 0)
The Republican coalition is disintegrating, not due to the failure of their identity politics, but because identity politics could no longer disguise the financial depredations inflicted by the Neo-Cons ("The Haves, and the Have Mores") upon all those other members of the coalition who unfortunately have to work for a living. 

Only the tiniest fraction of the anti-immigration groups are racists, most in fact are those who have seen in their own lives their own family's move from middle class to working class and from working class to living on the edge of destitution.  "It's the jobs, stupid!"  And no amount of ad hominem slurs about zenophobia will contradict the evidence of the loss of a career, or an eviction, or inability to pay next semester's tuition for your child.

And Liberals in their triumphalism see the blood in the water and their return to political ascendancy and are following the footsteps of the Republicans, making the same mistakes, and will end up in the same place.

The Liberal Democratic coalition broke apart when the Democratic Neo-Liberals allied themselves with corporate campaign donors and betrayed their Old Left union supporters, who, having no financial reason to remain Democrat, gave in to values-based appeals and became Reagan Democrats and all too soon became Reagan Republicans.

And the same will happen again.  The supposedly Liberal Left will succumb to the temptations of Neo-Liberalism and play identity politics instead of looking after the economic needs of its constituents, and lose its own coalition for the same reasons the Republicans are losing theirs, and just a few years later.

The jobs taken by illegal immigrants are not magically arising out of nothing, they used to be performed by Blacks, legal immigrants, the young, the old, and poor whites.  Those constituent groups are on the bitter edge of disaster, and will soon fall over the edge.  And they will see how the Democrats betrayed their own constituency (yet again) just as the Republicans did theirs.  And the disintegrating Democratic coalition will learn the difference between Liberals and Neo-Liberals just as the former Republican coalition had to learn the painful lesson of the difference between Conservatives and Neo-Conservatives.

So don't get too ahead of yourselves counting all those votes.


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