Liberals, take heart: the day is fast approaching when Newt Gingrich and George Bush will be forgotten names in a better America.
So prophesy New Republic editor Judis (The Paradox of American Democracy, 2000, etc.) and Century Foundation fellow Teixeira (The Disappearing American Voter, not reviewed) in this slender but not slight study published just in time for the midterm election, which should test some of their assumptions. Now inured to the culture of postindustrial capitalism, Americans are inclined to a political center that appears more and more progressive, the authors write; “they want government to play an active and responsible role in American life, guaranteeing a reasonable level of economic security to Americans rather than leaving them at the mercy of the market and the business cycle.” Conservative Republicans had their day, Judis and Teixeira add, in a time when most people seemed bent on repudiating the values of the 1960s; but voters are discovering that some of those values were not so bad, while Republicans “are putting forth remedies for problems that no longer exist and ignoring problems that do.” More and more voters are thus casting their ballots in favor of socially progressive candidates, a trend that is particularly pronounced in former conservative bastions such as Florida, southern California, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.—as well as the suburbs of Any City, U.S.A.: “In the past, cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco were Democratic, while the surrounding suburbs were Republican. Now the entire metropolitan area in many of these locations has become solidly Democratic.” Backing their forecast with solid data from recent elections and censuses, Judis and Teixeira predict a significant and decisive shift toward a true Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, perhaps within an election or two.
Politicians, campaign strategists, and trend-watchers will find much to ponder—or fret over, depending on where they sit.