Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blowing off the working class and the killing of the American Dream

Over at the blog RealityBase, Roger Chittum (aka Skeptic) has some thoughts on a NYT's article on Hubert Humphrey that suggested what killed the American Dream:
His narrative seems to be that in the 1970s, after the shellacking of George McGovern by Nixon in 1972 and the re-writing of the Democratic delegate selection process that gave Carter the nomination in 1976, liberalism in the Democratic Party changed its agenda. It became less about the bread and butter issues of economic security and shared prosperity and more about civil rights, the environment, getting out of Vietnam, and honest and transparent government. The Humphrey-Hawkins legislation in 1978, which nominally requires the Fed to keep both inflation and unemployment low, was so watered down that the Fed has never let itself be influenced in the slightest by the unemployment half of the mandate.
This jibes in some ways with what I wrote earlier about how the post-1968 New Left influence on the Democratic Party steered it away from labor issues and a working-class base.

Skeptic goes on to say,
Perlstein’s explanation—that there was a great political realignment and all of the endless string of tactical defeats for America’s middle and lower class incomes flow from that—seems rather plausible to me. One reason it seems plausible is that it’s a fair description of my own attitudes as a life-long Democrat.  I was not friendly to labor unions but saw them as more powerful than they needed to be, corrupt, bigoted, and on the wrong side about Vietnam, the environment, and civil rights.
The question remains whether the Democratic Party can get over the Sixties, but maybe we are finally see indications it may.

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