THE LIFE OF THE PARTY: Democratic Prospects in 1988 and Beyond by Robert Kuttner

THE LIFE OF THE PARTY: Democratic Prospects in 1988 and Beyond

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A trenchant appeal for the Democratic Party to return to economic populism and forgo its centrist trend. Kuttner (The Economic Illusion, 1984; Revolt of the Haves 1980) argues that so long as Democrats from the New Deal days and on provided inclusive social programs, their constituency of the poor and middle classes remained loyal; when the programs seemingly turned exclusive, feeding only special interests, the average voter bolted. But economic populism, he feels, remains a potent magnet--the typical baby boomer is not a yuppie but a ""New Collar"" with a real income no better than his parents had. Populist Senate campaigns won in 1986. This approach may still be ""a mood in search of an ideology,"" but Kuttner recommends a campaign program of trade controls (liberal governments fell in the 1970's when a global economy bared its sharp laissez-faire teeth), worker democracy in corporations, and an educational system retuned to give lifelong training. Working against the Democrats are campaign financing laws (the dominant business PACs pull cash-poor Democrats to the right), heavy voter disaffection (the natural Democratic constituency is always the first not to vote), and the flawed directional signals coming from neo-conservatism, nco-liberalism, and many party pros cowed by the GOP's new muscle. An invigorating, idea-rich antidote to the many obituaries written about the old Democratic coalition.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1987
Publisher: Viking