John Judis  is a man of the Left, but he is an honest man of the Left.  After the election of Obama he predicted an emerging Democrat majority.  In a first rate piece of analysis in The National Journal, here is what he thinks now:


After the 2008 election, I thought Obama could create an enduring Democratic majority by responding aggressively to the Great Recession in the same way that Franklin Roosevelt had responded in 1933 to the Great Depression. Obama, I believed, would finally bury the Reagan Republican majority of 1980 and inaugurate a new period of Democratic domination.

In retrospect, that analogy was clearly flawed. Roosevelt took power after four years of the Great Depression, with Republicans and business thoroughly discredited, and with the public (who lacked any safety net) ready to try virtually anything to revive the economy. Obama’s situation was very different. Business was still powerful enough to threaten him if he went too far in trying to tame it. Much of the middle class and working class were still employed, and they saw Obama’s stimulus program—which was utterly necessary to stem the Great Recession—as an expansion of government at their expense.

In the wake of the dramatic gains Republicans have made during Obama’s presidency, I now read the history of the last 80 years much differently. The period of New Deal Democratic ascendancy from 1933 to about 1968 may well prove to have been what historians Jefferson Cowie and Nick Salvatore have called the “long exception” in American politics. It was a period when Americans, panicked about the Depression, put on hold their historic aversion to aggressive government economic intervention, when the middle and bottom of the American economic pyramid united against the top, and when labor unions could claim the loyalty of a third of American workers. That era suffered fatal fissures in 1968 and finally came to a close with Reagan’s landslide in 1980.

It now appears that, in some form, the Republican era which began in 1980 is still with us. Reagan Republicanism—rooted in the long-standing American distrust of government, but perhaps with its roughest theocratic and insurrectionary edges sanded off for a national audience—is still the default position of many of those Americans who regularly go to the polls. It can be effectively challenged when Republicans become identified with economic mismanagement or with military defeat. But after the memory of such disasters has faded, the GOP coalition has reemerged—surprisingly intact and ready for battle.

Go here to read the rest.  Here is what I wrote after the 2010 election:

The Republican party had a very good election last night, and the Democrats had a very bad election.  The Republicans took control of the House and have gained approximately 60 seats with around 13 still to be decided.  The House will be more pro-life than at any time in our nation’s history since Roe v. Wade in 1973.  In the Senate the Republicans have gained approximately 6 seats with around 3 still to be decided.  The Republicans have gained at least seven governorships with a few to be decided, and at least 17 state legislative chambers have flipped to the GOP.  By any standards it was a great night for the GOP, and a vote of no confidence in both the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress.  It would be tempting to predict only triumph now for the Republicans and only doom for the Democrats in the future, but it is a temptation to be resisted.

After the 2008 elections many on the Left, giddy with victory, predicted that in future the Republican party would be only a rump party of the South, doomed to wander in the political wilderness for 40 years.  Typical of this commentary was a piece written by frequent commenter Morning’s Minion:

For look at what the Republican party has become in recent years: a rump party of the south and the plains, mired in an anachronistic culture that has little resonance with the modern world and with the younger generation.

Of course this commentary betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of American political history.  In that history there are no final victories and no final defeats.  The great issue in contention since the days of the Federalists and the Republicans, the role of government in the lives of a free people, has remained with us no matter what names the two parties call themselves.  When a party dies, the Whig party for instance, a new party steps forward to carry on the fight.  The parties themselves shift and change, but the large issues involved tend, at bottom, to remain the same.  Kipling wrote long ago:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

That is sound advice in American politics, no matter if an election is good for your party or bad for your party.



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  1. The “stimulus” was presented as an exercise in Keynesian economics. In truth it was a political payoff. It wan’t needed.

    I think Judis is not quite that honest. His politics are a failure in their attempt to create utopia. His politics do succeed in destruction.

  2. I am not surprised PF that a Leftist like JUdis does not agree with me on policy. What is refreshing is that he had the honesty to pull back a theory about electoral realignment he formulated when the theory did not accord with reality.

  3. As always, Mr. McClarey, I defer to your judgment.

    I can live with the fact that there are people with whom I disagree. I leave ’em alone and want no less from them.

    I do see things differently from Mr. Judis in that the Democrat elite is made up of corporate bigshots of all facets of the economy. Obumbler insider Penny Pritzker is a heir to the Hyatt hotel chain. Dick Simon is the biggest owner and operator of malls in the US and is – or was – a big Obumbler supporter. Judis was inferring that he thought Obama would go after corporations. Well, he has gone after those he doesn’t like – coal, for one.

    Mr. Judis overlooked something very important. The Democrats overreach when they get political power. The banking/mortgage/Great Recession fiasco can be laid at the feet of the Democrats. Carter started the political pressure to get banks to loan mortgage money to people who could not afford them. Clinton stepped it up big time. Barney Frank was way too influential in the subsequent mess and the GOP didn’t stop it. Cheap money thanks to Greenspan after 9/11 and banks diving into subprimes along with FNMA precipitated the mess. Most people blamed Bush. It was easier.

    Obumblercare is another overreach. It may go down in flames yet.

  4. A “first rate piece of analysis”? Hardly

    “Business was still powerful enough to threaten him if he went too far in trying to tame it.”
    Not true. I’ve worked in two major corporations on the Fortune 50. Believe me, between the IRS, SEC, DoD, DoL, SSA, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxkey, Dodd-Frank, etc., etc., they are very tame.

    “Obama’s stimulus program—which was utterly necessary to stem the Great Recession”
    Necessary? Not by any realistic metric. Reagan’s policies would have stopped it in six months – and I write that as a very late comer to his outlook.

    “Reagan Republicanism—rooted in the long-standing American distrust of government, but perhaps with its roughest theocratic and insurrectionary edges sanded off for a national audience”
    What theocratic edges? There hasn’t been an attempt at a theocracy in this country since the Massachusetts Bay colony. Americans who vote their religiously informed consciences support pluralism as much as those who have none, perhaps more so. It is an act of stereotyping to maintain otherwise.

    OK, the paragraph on the ‘Great Exception’ in American politics is on the mark. The core argument is correct. But the writer in his need to maintain his liberal bona fides throws so much slop to his liberal audience that he brings into question his basic analytical and observational skills.

  5. “The core argument is correct.”

    Which is what I was addressing. His theory about electoral alignment in favor of the Democrats is what he was taking back, and such a public admission of being wrong takes some fortitude to do. It is more impressive in that his admission is obviously not a result of any ideological conversion but rather through new facts coming forward that countered what he thought would happen based on his theory.

  6. “It is more impressive in that his admission is obviously not a result of any ideological conversion but rather through new facts coming forward that countered what he thought would happen based on his theory.”
    True. I wonder what other new facts are needed to counter the rest of his slop? Uh, wait, they are already out there in the public domain. He just has to look.

  7. I’ve said for years to the ignorant that will listen ….. Obama’s biggest mistake … and he continues to do so (economically) …. was to create such confusion and unpredictability into the market (mostly via obamacare) … that this paralyzed companies into not investing in their business and people due to a lack in the ability to forecast and plan. They sat on funds and earnings, waiting … waiting for the dust to settle. The recession would have been over far sooner given a more stable, predictable future.

  8. “enduring Democratic majority” “a new period of Democratic domination”
    Since the democratic party now seems to be about constantly progressing— on the rapid trajectory to human utopia, it makes me wonder what governmental/social innovations would have awaited us had he been correct. 🙁 How far left could a society actually go and endure with any identifiable structure?

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