Comments: The Emerging Democratic Majority (Judis & Teixeira)

Excellent review!

It does sound like their taking their own reading of their statistics way too seriously, instead of allowing for reasonable margins of error.

You might be surprised to learn, after reading them, that I've heard religious conservatives cite the demographic argument in their favor. Yes, abortion is an issue, but there's also higher average family size, and immigration from heavily Catholic Mexico and other countries with strong religious traditions and less urbanized cultures. Also rising membership in certain classes of churches, if memory serves.

Personally, I think the whole 'pendulum' theory is a crock, as the issues and parties change too much over the course of the three decades usually cited as a 'cycle' to be meaningfully the same.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at August 22, 2004 02:10 PM

I did consider mentioning that statistics can be interpreted to "prove" almost anything you want them to prove, but I figured everyone reading here knows that already.

(That's also why I didn't spend much time discussing their statistics. Insofar as the authors translated statistics into demographics, I found the trends they claim to have identified worth considering, but I didn't want to give the impression I was going overboard to fall in with their every theory.)

While I do think that in today's world it's a mistake to think you can identify future trends without considering the entire world among your factors, I should also say that I did agree with their conclusion that issues about the environment, women's rights, and other "60s movements" have largely become part of the country's mainstream and that the party struggling to turn the clock back on these issues is fighting a losing battle.

I'm not particularly concerned by statistics quoted about religion. There may be an odd number of people who claim they're regular church-goers in this country, but a count taken standing outside a church on a Sunday showed that people were rashly inflating their church attendance.

You also have to consider that "religious" covers a lot of ground. This country's Jewish and Catholic populations have both suffered organized oppression in this country and, in spite of the flap over "communion for abortion supporters" I doubt that they'd be wholeheartedly behind a move by Protestants to start pushing a Protestant religious agenda*.)

(* It's very clumsy talking about a "Protestant agenda" as though all sects had identical beliefs.)

Posted by Anne at August 22, 2004 06:30 PM

For clarification if you please.

What is your definition of "fringe?" (besides neocon) in the context of your post?

What is your threshold for "signficant"?

Since you list neocons as a significant fringe and they (in Congress) are quite easy to identify, would you mind doing so? Thanks.

Posted by Col Steve at August 23, 2004 11:46 AM

"They pause to attribute these transitions to "Keynesian business policies" that "reduce the downward trajectory of the business cycles." Depressions used to precede political sea-changes."

Or, as Joseph Schumpeter said, "the social process is really one indivisible whole" and "the business cycle is mis-named" and should really be thought of as a social cycle, or a cultural cycle. Maybe moderating it financially means also moderating its cultural effects as well. I suspect that Immanuel Wallerstein would like that explanation (I suspect he has probably argued it in some book), maybe Fernand Braudel would have agreed.

[Col Steve - thanks for kind words of concern on my weblog.]

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 24, 2004 02:14 AM

"It's their case (and they make it well) that the just-passed Republican Majority was a necessary and useful "corrective" to the radical economic and social upheaval in this country over recent decades."

Oh come on, we all know what nonsense that is. The just-ending Republican majority was based on pure racism, and nothing else. After the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights bill the South slowly changed from Democratic to Republican alliegience. For as long as the Republicans could hold onto their old power bases in the SouthWest and mid-West while gaining the South, they had the advantage. Its the end of the Republican hold on places like California, New Mexico and Arizona that's bringing an end to the Republican era.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 24, 2004 02:19 AM

Col Steve -

1) In the context of the post, the neocons are actuallly the only fringe group I was thinking about at the moment.

2) "Significant" is a group large enough to sway public policy.

3) Probably not, no. I'm guilty of sloppy wording at that point. I typed "in Congress" when I should have typed "in power" since, as I'm sure you suspect, it was appointees of the Bush Administration I was thinking of.

Posted by Anne at August 25, 2004 07:48 AM

Lawrence, I think you're being short-sighted. The just-passed Republican Majority wasn't all about racism by any means. It was about power and money, like all politics in this country.

The Republican Party merely used the card of racism to help build a base of support, the same way they used the religion card.

(I'm not arguing that there wasn't a lot of racism, just that it wasn't, in and of itself, the end. It was just the means.)

Posted by Anne at August 25, 2004 07:50 AM

Sorry if I'm nit-picking, but the Republican majority was based on pure racism. I mean the status of holding a majority. I should have made some distinction between Republican politics in general (greed, money, power) and the ability of the Republicans to build a coalition big enough to include the majority of Americans. The Republicans would not have held the upper hand 1968-1996 if it had not been for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Southern Strategy which capitalized on white reaction to the Civil Rights Act. The Republicans would have continued to hold the minority status they'd held since 1932, were it not for the race card.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at August 25, 2004 02:13 PM

Sorry, Lawrence. I misinterpreted how you were using "based on." You were talking about the "appeal" to the individuals being coaxed into the majority. I was thinking of the actual end aims of those leading it.

You're right. It was a "based on" racism.

Posted by Anne at August 27, 2004 11:04 AM