Progressive populism, conservative populism, and the winner is, moderate liberalism

Wouldn’t that be great! Wouldn’t that mean dancing in the streets, which we haven’t done since when? since Barack Obama was elected to a second term as president nearly 8 years ago.

We’ve been living through, and still are, difficult times. In that regard it’s enough that Donald Trump is the president. David Brooks looks back from the year, 2050, and tells us what happened 2020 and what’s happened since then, things we all want to know, now in 2019.
Follow these two links:

1, Brooks: A Brief History of the Warren Presidency, A look back at American politics from the year 2050.
David Brooks has placed himself in the year 2050 and he tells us what has happened, in 2020, and since then.

2. Goldberg: Dare We Dream of the End of the G.O.P.?
Michelle Goldberg, still in 2019, brings us the words of the polster, Stanley Greenberg, who tells us with great assurance what will happen in 2020.

For what I write below I have first David Brooks and then Michelle Goldberg and of course the pollster, Stanley Greenberg, to thank.

DAvid Brooks

First David Brooks, the big events he writes about during the 2019-2050 period were:

  1. In the Democratic primary Elizabeth Warren triumphed over the other progressive populist, Bernie Sanders,
  2. Then in November of 2020 Trump’s unfitness for the presidency as well as the fact that he had tied himself down to a white ethnic national narrative that only appealed to a shrinking segment of white nationalists, meant that Warren would and did win convincingly in November.
  3. Also the Democrats won an even bigger majority in the House, and even a slim majority in the Senate.
  4. After that election, the Republicans suffered a long, steady decline. Post election Trump was reviled by everyone and once out of the Oval Office he learned he had no loyal defenders, not even his sidekicks Pence and Pompeo. Furthermore only 8 percent of young people called themselves conservatives. Republican voters, mostly older, were dying out, and were not making new ones. For the ensuing two decades the party didn’t resonate beyond its white rural base.
  5. In 2020 while the progressive populists (Berni Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), and the Republican populists (Trump, Pence and Fox News and friends) did desire radical changes our democracy, for sharply breaking with the past, only the the progressive populist, Elizabeth Warren came out on top.
  6. But the euphoria, the dancing in the street that greeted the expulsion of Trump from the Oval Office, all that quickly came to an end when Warren tried to pass her radical legislative agenda. One by one, her proposals failed in the Senate: Medicare for all, free college, decriminalizing undocumented border crossing, even the wealth tax…
  7. And when the recession of 2021 hit, things got ugly. It became evident that the nation had three political tendencies — conservative populism, progressive populism and moderate liberalism, and not one of them could put together a governing majority to get things done.
  8. With the Republicans powerless and irrelevant, the war within the Democratic Party grew vicious. Democratic progressives detested the moderate Democratic liberals even more than they did the conservatives.
  9. The struggle came to a head with another set of Democratic primaries in 2024. Here the moderate liberals triumphed easily. Progressive populism burned out as had right-wing populism before, and the Democratic moderates became the nation’s majority party.

We’re left after reading Brooks’ article with the big question, which Brooks doesn’t answer, even from the 2050 perspective, what had happened to the moderate liberals, those who had won the election of 2020, those with a basic faith in American institutions, in capitalism and the Constitution, in the classical liberal philosophy that was embedded in America’s founding, the philosophy inherited by Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’s and embodied in a millennial nationalism, a sense that America had a special destiny as the last best hope of earth. We’d like to think that this was David’s country in 2050, but nothing he says makes us, or him probably, believe it. Wishful thinking.

Michelle Goldberg

Michelle Goldberg’s article doesn’t look ahead to 2050. We’re back in 2019, and we’re still preoccupied by what will happen in 2020. Michelle introduces us to the present thinking of the polster, Stanley Greenberg who in his new book, “R.I.P. G.O.P,” makes a thrilling prediction, delivered with the certainty of prophecy.

“The year 2020 will produce a second blue wave on at least the scale of the first in 2018 and finally will crash and shatter the Republican Party that was consumed by the ill-begotten battle to stop the New America from governing.”

“It sounds almost messianic: the Republican Party, that foul agglomeration of bigotry and avarice that has turned American politics into a dystopian farce, not just defeated but destroyed. The inexorable force of demography bringing us a new, enlightened political dispensation. Greenberg foresees “the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it,” and a Democratic Party. “liberated from the nation’s suffocating polarization to use government to advance the public good.”
I’d like to believe that, and maybe you would too.

Michelle goes on to say:
“This is not the first time that experts have predicted the inevitable triumph of progressive politics. Seventeen years ago, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira published “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which argued that the country was on the cusp of a liberal political realignment driven by growing diversity, urbanization and gender equality…. But Republicans still have more power than Democrats, and in 2017, Judis disavowed his book’s thesis, arguing that only populist economics could deliver Democratic victories….”

Yet going into 2020, Greenberg believes that what he calls the “rising American electorate” — including millennials, people of color and single women — will ensure Democratic victory, almost regardless of whom the party nominates. “We’re dealing with demographic and cultural trends, but we’re also dealing with people that are organizing and talking to one and another and becoming much more conscious of their values,” he said.

Srtanley Greenberg

In his polling and focus groups, he’s seeing that the reaction to Trump is changing people. “The Trump presidency so invaded the public’s consciousness that it was hard to talk to previously disengaged and unregistered unmarried women, people of color and millennials without them going right to Trump,” he writes.

A resolve to resist has led many voters to define their own beliefs in opposition to Trump’s. On immigration, for example, “every Trump outrage increased the proportion of Americans who said, ‘We are an immigrant country,’” writes Greenberg. Indeed, according to recent Pew data, 62 percent of Americans say that immigrants strengthen the country, while 28 percent, a near record low, see them as a burden.

The specter of California haunts the modern right; many conservatives see it as a portent of what demographic change will do to Republican power nationally. But California can just as easily be seen as a sign of how a political party can drive itself to ruin by making a cruel, doomed stand against the coming generation. If Greenberg is right, national Republicans, fearful of going the way of those in California, may have ensured precisely that fate.


And Goldberg: “But is Stranley right? … His confidence will not be enough to lessen the insomnia that has plagued me since the cursed night when Trump was elected. But his book should be a corrective to the media’s overweening focus on the mulish devotion of Trump voters. Trump hatred is a much more potent force in this country than Trump love. “


Stanley Bernard “Stan” Greenberg (born May 10, 1945) is a leading Democratic pollster and political strategist. A political scientist who received his bachelor’s degree from Miami University and his Ph.D. from Harvard. He spent a decade teaching at Yale University before becoming a political consultant. He is the CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a polling and consulting firm, and co-founder (with James Carville and Bob Shrum) of Democracy Corps, a non-profit organization which produces left-leaning political strategy.[ He advised the Presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, as well as hundreds of other candidates and organizations in the United States, Latin America, Europe and around the world, including Gerhard Schröder, the former Chancellor of Germany and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. (Wikipedia)

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