Friday, December 15, 2017

How the Parties Have Flip Flopped

During my lifetime there have been big changes in the political parties:
  1. In 1950 the Democrats were the party of the white working class; today Republicans are the party of the white evangelical class
  2. In 1950 the Democrats were the party of the Catholics, today Republicans share the vote
  3. In 1950 the Democrats had a good foothold in rural areas, today the Republicans dominate 
  4. In 1950 the Democrats controlled a solid South; today the Republicans control a solid South
  5. In 1950 white college-educated women were represented by the moderate League of Women Voters and American Association of University Women (in which my aunt was very active); today those women are feminists and vote mostly Democrat
  6. In 1950 the Republicans had a foothold with black voters (Ike would get 40 percent in 1952); today the Democrats dominate
  7. In 1950 Asian American and Latino Americans weren't significant blocs, today they are and lean (most of them) Democrat
The argument today is that our politics is more partisan and more divided than ever before.  I think that's too simplistic.  The South was solid in 1950, it's solid today.  Catholics are less divided than before.  The difference is that the blocs comprising the parties are now more aligned on some ideological parameters.   Another difference is that some policies are no longer partisan--they've been resolved.  For example:
  1. Public power used to be a big issue--would we expand it or not?  Not an issue today.
  2. Farm policy used to be a national issue, getting the attention of presidents. Not so today.
  3. Labor-management relations used to be a national issue.  We had strikes of miners, of autoworkers, of longshoremen, of steel workers, strikes which the president often had to step in and get a settlement.  No more today.
  4. Segregation used to be a big issue--not today.
  5. Cold war policy used to be big.
  6. Socialism and the threat of communism were big in 1950.  Not today. 
  7. National debt
There's other issues, but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.   There's also a new set of issues, creating different divisions:
  1. Immigration
  2. Gender/sex
  3. Feminism/sexual harassment
  4. Inequality 
  5. Taxes

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