The election of 1928 began the political realignment of the United States which culminated in the overwhelming election of President Franklin
Roosevelt in 1932 and the dramatic voter realignment. A new coalition started which was led by President Roosevelt; it became known as the New Deal
coalition. From 1932 through 1968 the coalition of city machines, labor unions, blue collar workers, minorities, liberal farmers, white Southerners,
welfare users, and intellectuals formed this Democratic Party which began to fall apart in 1968 and dying in the 1972 President election.
Just as 1932 was the result of 1928, 1972 was the result of 1968. Why most historians and political scientists do not view 1972 as a realigning
election is because it does not clearly fit such a definition. We can view the 1970s in its entirety as a realigning of politics or should I say,
de-alignment. By 1980 this de-alignment had ended with the beginning of a new re-alignment due to Ronald Reagan. However this is also not viewed as a
realigning election because it did not begin a new era of politics, what I believe it did, was create a part two of the old New Deal era.
From 1932-1968 we had the Liberal New Deal era where the government programs and services continuously expanded, social experimentation was great, and
it ushered in the New Deal and Great Society. These policies were unsustainable to say the least, so in the 1970s we suffered a horrible static
economy with the fall of the dollar after removing it from the Bretton Woods System, the oil crisis, and the ‘days of malaise’. Reagan ended that
unstable era and ushered in a new version of the New Deal era, as I would like to call, the Conservative New Deal era.
Most political eras last 32-40 years before some type of realigning election occur which changes the political system. 1860, 1896, and 1932 are all
examples of such a change. The reason we never had a clear re-alignment since 1932 is that we only split this era in two rather than exit it for a new
era. This split began in 1968 and ended in 1980 with a new part of the era. Reagan was a Harry Truman Democrat who became only more conservative but
never abandoned the ideas altogether.
George H.W. Bush was a Rockefeller Republican which was a New Deal Republican. George W. Bush was a Neoconservative; Neocons are Liberals who
abandoned the Democratic Party during the rise of the New Left which was known as the Hippie movement. The George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy type of
Democrats chased them out of the party and into supporting the Richard Nixon administration where many prominent Neoconservatives began their careers.
They completely abandoned the Democrats in 1980 and became known during the 1980s as ‘Reagan Democrats’.
When Bill Clinton became President this ushered in a new type of Democratic Party as well, a much more socially progressive one than before. It did
not have any desire for a recreation of another ‘New Deal’ or ‘Great Society’ type of economic program. While views differed within the party
from fiscally centrist to social democratic there was never a strong organization within the party to form another economic program.
This era was, thus, much more Conservative compared to the Liberal New Deal era. While neither party was willing to overturn Medicare/Medicaid, Social
Security, etc… because it had become engrained in public life these programs were then accepted by both parties with only a fringe willing to
actually destroy them. With rhetoric much more conservative and actually policies more conservative overall while still accepting the type of society
the New Deal and Great Society created this failed to create an entirely new era it just created a part two of the first era, a Conservative New Deal
But could this last forever? The simple answer is no, because no era regardless of how we try and extend it can hold on forever. So when will we see
the end of this two-part New Deal era? I believe we are on the edge of seeing its collapse right now. With talks of cutting government on both sides
of the aisle the question now becomes how far we cut and what do we cut. Programs which before would never even be considered something we can touch
in cutting the budget without enormous backlash are now on the table.
With the debt debate something hit me from watching it, today’s Liberals were very angry, they were slamming the right for wanting to overturn the
80 years of New Deal politics which had built our country as we know it today. Liberal bloggers and commentators were saying these Conservatives now
want to pull our country out of the New Deal system of government and they will not let that happen, they will fight to hold onto the society which
was constructed since the 1930s. That is when it hit me, people who argue for maintaining what is rather than dramatically changing it are
conservative by definition.
an ideology that views the existing form of society as worthy of preservation
in favor of preserving the status quo and traditional values and customs, and against abrupt change
Now I know many ‘Liberals’ will say that what the Right is advocating is not change but a reactionary politics. But that is only of opinion and
not fact, calling someone reactionary is a harsh accusation and must be proven with absolute factor before it should be accepted by anyone.
Regardless, even if they are reactionary, you are the ones wanting to preserve the type of society that we have today, even if you do want
I am not saying today’s Liberals fit Conservative ideology perfectly; we all know they are much more socially progressive than socially
conservative. But their view of society and the structure as it stands today is what they want to maintain instead of this ‘radical change’ being
proposed by those on the right. And this type of dramatic reversal of ideas without any actual changing of political positions by one political side
is what always accompanies a political realignment.
Not only does one side, without moving on their political positions, go from being technically Liberal to Conservative almost overnight, but
demographic changes also occur. And while these may be much more subtle they still exist.
Alright, you may be asking, so what if a political realignment occurs, what does it really matter to me? Well it matters a lot actually, because
political affiliations change in a few short years, issues which were silenced then become important, and people who were important before can become
irrelevant in less than a decade. Realignment hits both parties and people not involved in either party hard.
Could 2010 have been the beginning of this realignment? It is possible, because realignments can take anywhere from 2-6 years to be fulfilled. If we
think 2010 was the beginning of the realignment, as I do, then it will be realized with either the 2012 or 2016 President election. No incumbent has
ever survived a realigning election; Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter are great examples. 1860 and 1896 realignment did not have an incumbent President
Realigning elections always bring in new political figures which define the era. 1860 realignment brought on the Reconstruction era with Abraham
Lincoln being the dominant figure. 1896 realignment brought on the Progressive era with William McKinley being the dominant figure. 1932 realignment
brought on the New Deal, specifically Liberal New Deal era, with Franklin Roosevelt being the dominant figure. 1980 brought continued the New Deal,
but brought on the Conservative New Deal era, with Ronald Reagan being the dominant figure.
Let’s take a look at some recent developments released by the Pew Research Center, the results of which are very interesting.
% identified Republican advantage among voters, 2008 / 2011:
All voters: -12 / -4
White: +2 / +13
Black: -82 / -78
Hispanic: -38 / -42
Men: -2 / +4
Women: -21 / -12
18-29: -28 / -13
30-49: -9 / -3
50-64: -11 / -5
65+: -8 / +2
College grad+: -10 / -4
Some college: -10 / +1
HS or less: -16 / - 8
$75k+: +1 / +5
$30-75k: -12 / 0
>$30k: -34 / -22
Northeast: -21 / -16
Midwest: -13 / +1
South: -6 / -2
West: -15 / -3
Men: +11 / +21
Women: -7 / +5
18-29: -7 / +11
30-49: +7 / +19
50-64: 0 / +9
65+: +2 / +12
College grad+: -1 / +7
Some college: +5 / +16
HS or less: +1 / +17
$75k+: +11 / +14
$30-75k: +1 / +16