71 of 83 people found the following review helpful
It's about time somebody said so!,
This review is from: The Emerging Democratic Majority (Lisa Drew Books) (Hardcover)With George W. Bush riding high in the opinion polls (for the moment, at least) and the Democrats struggling to establish a solid majority in either house of Congress this fall, the title of this book alone is likely to make some Republicans write it off as wishful thinking. They do so at their own peril. Just as the Democrats' 1964 across-the-board landslide proved to be the beginning of the end of the New Deal coalition, Judis and Teixeira argue that George W. Bush's (near-) victory and the narrow survival of the Republican majority in Congress in 2000 will soon be recognized as the last gasp of 1980s laissez-faire conservatism. Of course, partisans of all stripes love to believe that such a watershed in their favor is always just around the bend, but Judis and Teixeira do make a remarkably solid, evenhanded case for their prediction.
The many analogies they draw between the 1960s and the current political climate are probably self-evident to most political junkies already. In both eras, the party in power overestimated its own popularity and the durability of its voting base, and suffered from a growing rift between moderates and those on the far left or right within its ranks. Much as Watergate provided the Democrats with a brief respite from their impending years in the wilderness, the Clinton scandals and Al Gore's somewhat inept response to them have enabled the Republicans to remain in power beyond the scope of their current voting base.
Judis and Teixeira argue that that base has already been showing signs of fragmentation for a decade and will inevitably continue to do so; and they provide a detailed demographic and geographical analysis for their argument. As the Republicans continue to alienate most minority groups, the Democrats' already significant advantage among nonwhite voters will only improve (a process that has been exacerbated rather than eased by the Bush administration's response to September 11, they argue). Among whites, the longstanding Republican advantage is past its peak and began to crack as early as 1992. Judis and Teixeira predict that in the coming decade, these trends have the potential to leave the Republicans with a hardcore support base on the all-important Electoral College map nearly as small as that held by the Democrats in the 1980s, concentrated in the Deep South and upper Rockies. Judis and Teixeira provide predictions for all 50 states, ranging from thumbnail sketches to pages-long analyses depending on the size and degree of change in each state. Although no one is likely to agree with all of their predictions (I don't), the breadth and detail of the study is fascinating regardless of your political allegiance.
Although the authors' political persuasion is unmistakable, there is very little analysis of issues to be found in the book. Instead, they stick to analyzing the parties' respective positions on the hottest issues of the era. Their bluntness in addressing the mistakes and cynical moves of both parties in the past 30 years is likely to offend people of both extremes. But for the more moderate among us, it's a breath of fresh air to read in the same place that, yes, the Republicans did build their majority on appeals to racism, misogyny and homophobia and, yes, the far left can in fact be hypersensitive and intolerant in its own way. Again, anyone with an opinion (again, including myself) is likely to disagree with their characterizations at some point, and it could also be argued that they distort the realities of the 2000 political landscape and overstate the excesses of the post-60s Left in order to better fit their argument. But overall, it is a solidly grounded argument, and Judis and Teixeira do acknowledge four common Republican counterarguments and make a solid case against each of them.
Inevitably, most readers will either want to believe this book before reading it, or hope it's wrong and refuse to be swayed as a result. But either way, it's a formidable and well- supported thesis. I look forward to re-reading it in a few years to see how many of the predictions prove true.