RIGHT TURN: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics by Thomas & Joel Rogers Ferguson

RIGHT TURN: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics

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If the species is not entirely extinct, there may be a few liberal Democrats wandering forlornly through what they see as a bleak political landscape. Desperate to believe that the spirit of FDR is not forever dead, they may turn to this fascinating study of the Democratic Party. The bad news for liberals, according to these political scientists and Nation columnists, is that the party's rightward drift is going to continue. The good news: there isn't any. Short of a sharp economic downturn or some political upheaval, the authors expect this drift to continue. This is one of those rare books that--although it's sometimes heavy-going--causes you to see things differently. Ferguson and Rogers, citing many polls, are persuasive in their assertion that the electorate, contrary to conventional wisdom, has NOT moved to the right. Thus, an apparent paradox: both political parties turning right while a majority of the electorate has actually moved a bit to the left. The authors argue ""that a move to the right may be the worst electoral move the Democrats could make, and that the mistake that the Democrats made in 1984 was not in their alleged 'reaching down' but the fact that they did not 'reach down' nearly enough."" ""They explain that this behavior, which seems contrary to the politician's basic instinct--to win--is because the powerful financial interests that control the Democratic Party, as well as the Republican, do no want to offer the programs necessary to mobilize the poor, blacks and other minorities, women and workers, that they would rather lose than upset the status quo. If so, is ours a curious democracy in which neither party is responsive to the people? Maybe that explains low voter turn-out.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1986
Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux