Our Next Superjumbo
The question seems rather less important now, but for a while I was working on a book about politics, especially how the Democrats could win elections. For those out there interested in the question, Rick Perlstein (author of Before the Storm, the highly-praised history of the rise of the Republican right) has written what is pretty much the definitive piece on the subject, now in paperback as The Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo.
In short: Perlstein recounts the strong evidence that there is very broad support for the economic platform of the Democrats. Nonvoters, independents, and even Republicans, he notes, support core Democratic principles. They just don’t consider themselves Democrats, a party they think of as not standing for anything in particular. This is, of course, because Democrats have been busy chasing after the mirage of swing voters, running further and further to the right, following the ball Republicans are glefully pulling in front of them.
He argues that instead, the Democrats must build a strong and long-term political identity, building a new political landscape instead of trying to win on the old one, just as the right-wing Republicans did. Doing so requires a openness to the possibility of losing, at least initially, but in the end it is the only way to win.
This artless summary doesn’t convey the depth of Perlstein’s piece, so if you’re interested you can:
- Read it online at the Boston Review, where it was originally published
- Buy the book
- Buy Before the Storm
- Boston Review: Various responses and Perlstein’s rebuttal
- Crooked Timber: Market Making versus Market Taking in Politics (feat. comments by Perlstein)
A final note: Why is all this uninteresting? Because the Democrats aren’t paid to win elections. They’re paid to win policy for their corporate donors. Policy that hurts those companies, however popular with the public, simply will not be funded.
You should follow me on twitter here.
July 20, 2005