The Fraying Coalition

Walter Russell Mead has a very interesting post on the origins of the modern Democratic Party and the challenges it faces. Here’s a snippet:

President Obama–an African-American urban candidate who is also an intellectual comfortable with elevated talk about the nuances of reform with upper middle class whites–is the ideal candidate for the new Democratic core. One hundred years ago Woodrow Wilson played a similar role; a white southerner (and the first southerner in the White House since before the Civil War), he was also a college professor and president.

But the coalition President Obama heads is a much more fragile one. On one side you have the old time pols of the urban machines (like House Ways and Means Committee chair Charles Rangel); on the other you have the grim and determined brigades of morally uplifting upper middle class reform. It is a coalition of The New York Times and the contemporary version of Tammany Hall.

Read the whole thing.

5 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    Interesting piece, but Mead leaves out women. Woman’s suffrage in the 1920s helped Republicans for several generations. Wilson tried to build a progressive coalition that didn’t include women, but today’s Democrats can generally rely upon women as part of their base.

  • steve Link

    Will Rogers said it better. “I belong to no organized party…”

    I read the following quote and wondered if Mead should stick to foreign policy.

    “But the grimly moral goo-goos are the hardest people in America to get along with. ”

    Really? More difficult than the right wing evangelicals? Other than that, an ok piece. Dems and Repubs both have internal dissent problems. The Repubs have the advantage of running against incumbency and better official media.


  • PD Shaw Link

    steve, when progressives go on and on about food policies, such as whether to tax fat, how much information to require on menus, and how we can make disgusting, fat people that make me sick and embarrassed to be an American, I hear the sound of the preacher.

  • PD Shaw Link

    Side note: David Frum recently penned a piece arguing that the Republicans should return to their goo-goo roots (the Mugwumps). I read it as a plea for more neoconservatism on the domestic side of the Republican agenda, but YMMV.

  • Brett Link

    I think he attributes more unity that there actually is to the “goo-goo”s. There are some preachers, but a lot of us have a more “hobbesian” view of governmental policies. We think the lack of a certain type of regulation or effort is worse than having it.

    Other than that, an ok piece. Dems and Repubs both have internal dissent problems.

    They do, but the groups in the Republican Party are more cohesive as a whole than those in the Democratic Party. Probably because, in many cases, there is a lot of overlap – you get middle-class people who are also evangelicals (or at least religious), and the like.

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