The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Monday, February 07, 2005
The three dead cat bounces of the Democratic Party
Listening to Laura Flanders and guests on Air America talking about the potential of Howard Dean as chairman of the DNC, I wondered at the extraordinary fortunes of the Dems in White House races in the last half century.
John Kennedy held the Confederacy more or less solid (FL, TN, VA slipped over the side), but, in turning from a safety first position on race, and proposing a forward policy on Federal race equality legislation, he initiated the dumping of the South by the Dems the fruit of which (after years of glacial progress) appears in the 33 seat GOP majority in the 109th Congress' Confederate House delegation.
Each of the three Dem winners in races for the top job have had two things in common: they have been Southerners, and have benefited from a piece of unmerited and unplanned good fortune in securing their wins. Johnson had the JFK assassination, Carter had Watergate, Clinton had Ross Perot splitting the Republican vote, à la Woodrow Wilson in 1912, with RP standing in for TR.
With the racial gerrymanders that LBJ's Voting Rights Act forced onto the South, white moderate Dems are on the endangered species list. Northern liberals have fared not so well in the period under review: Gore was set up nicely, of course, as a Southern incumbent of a moderate, fiscally conservative administration - a measure of just how bad his defeat was.
By comparison, the hapless, two-strikes down (liberal-ish and a US Senator) John Kerry, with his let's lose it for Teresa campaign (that voting for the $87 billion before voting against it seemed too crass to be an accident) did pretty well.
The cat may live to bounce again.
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