Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Judis, John B. and Ruy Teixeira. The Emerging Democratic Majority. Scribner, 2002, index, 213 p.

In 1969, Kevin Phillips wrote "The Emerging Republican Majority." His thesis was that the elecorate was changing and would soon be electing a Republican majority in the Congress and that the presidency would be ruled by Republicans. His thesis was borne out throughout the 70s and 80s. If Watergate hadn't intervened, it is highly likely that the U.S. would have had an unbroken string of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon through George Bush Sr. As it was, even with Watergate, Gerald Ford came within a whisker of beating Jimmy Carter. The Senate went Republican in 1980 and again in 1994. The House has been in Republican hands since 1994. In this new book, Judis and Teixeira argue that the Democrats are in much the same position that Republicans found themselves in 1969. By 2010, at the latest, they expect Democrats to be in control of the political agenda.

The authors make their case through a series of arguments based on demographic changes that include the increased number of non-white voters, women, professionals, and labor who identify more with policies and views of the Democratic Party than with the Republican. These policies include attention to the deficit, attention to the environment, women's rights including freedom of choice, and using government as a force for constructive societal change.

It's a persuasive argument. They caution that demographics are not destiny and that these trends do not guarantee a Democratic majority. The party will require effective and capable politicians who can craft an appealing message for the emerging coalition that will carry the Democrats to power.

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