: The 2004 Election and the Future of Progressivism Event Photos
L to R: Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America; Donna Brazile, Chair, Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute; Ruy Teixeira, political analyst and Joint Fellow at the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation; E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution; Will Marshall, President, Progressive Policy Institute
The 2004 Election and the Future of Progressivism
In this year’s “most prescient political book,” Thomas Frank asks, “What’s the matter with Kansas?” After the election, many progressives are now asking, “What’s the matter with America?” Progressives seem increasingly befuddled by voters who claim to support an array of progressives policies but, as Frank argues, consistently vote “against their material interests.” Frank attributes this to a decades-long campaign of conservatives cultural populism that demonizes progressives as out of touch with American life.
November 23, 2004
|Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America “Here’s what I suggest we do: we confront their fake populism with the real deal; we start talking one more time about the economic powers that really, honestly do make our lives what they are, and that really, truly do so without asking the say-so of average people. We talk about Wal-Mart, for example, and how their business plan is the exact opposite of, say, what Henry Ford used to do, the idea that you’ll pay your workers enough so that eventually they’ll be able to afford your product. Today, thanks to Wal-Mart the forces all push in the other direction and we should be encouraging people to wonder why that is and what they can do about it.”||Donna Brazile, Chair, Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute “Every two years I find myself in this defensive posture where I have to tell people that the black vote did its part; that the black vote is like gravy or roux: you can do so much without potatoes or rice. And therefore it’s important to understand that in 10 of the 12 battleground states where African-Americans make up as much as 10 to 15 percent of the population, their numbers actually increased. Black voter turnout was up 25 percent and nationally African-American percentage grew by one percentage point from 10 percent of the electorate to 11 percent, representing more than 3 million new voters, many of them first-time voters and young voters.”||Will Marshall, President, Progressive Policy Institute (pic 069er.JPG) “…the big lesson I take away from this is that ideas still matter most in determining presidential elections and the challenge for our party is to get better at persuading persuadable voters. There isn’t this hidden cache somewhere of voters who are going to come out for us if we just turn up the populist rhetoric or unveil ourselves as loud-and-proud liberals or lefties. We keep trying that approach and it never seems to work. I do think we have to recognize that our job here is to change minds, to frame compelling arguments to people, change enough minds to start building a progressive majority and check the momentum of what is now a mild conservative Republican ascendancy in this country now: two straight elections where they have gotten over 50 percent of the vote.”|
|Ruy Teixeira, political analyst and Joint Fellow at the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation “The real problem was the white working class and I think that’s what we’re really talking about here and that’s really in a sense at what Tom’s remarks I think were directed at and probably a lot of other people’s remarks as well. It looks like we lost – Democrats lost the white working class, whites without a four-year college degree by about 24 points in this election. That’s up from 17 in 2000, and let’s not forget that Bill Clinton managed to carry the white working class by a point in both of his election victories, so it’s really about, in a sense, how you do you reach the white working class, and particularly in this election white, working-class women. That’s where the erosion really took place I think.”||E.J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution “And just a few quick numbers: 38 percent of those who thought abortion should be legal in most cases went to Bush. Bush got 22 percent from voters who favored gay marriage; 52 percent among those who favored civil unions. And apropos of Tom’s populace points, Bush even managed 16 percent among voters who thought the president paid more attention to the interests of large corporations than to those of ordinary Americans.”|