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Lunch » Tags » Politics » Reviews » The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up For Grabs - and Who Will Take It » User review

Pay no attention to the pundits--there is no permanent Democratic or Republican majority on horizon

  • Apr 11, 2012
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It seems we hear the same discussion after nearly election cycle. The party that lost the election is about to consigned to the political scrap heap. The pundits tell us that the election was "transformative" and that a major political realignment is underway. Likewise, over the past 100 years countless books have been written touting historic realignments that supposedly took place or are about to unfold. Two prime examples of this would be Kevin Phillip's 1968 book "The Emerging Republican Majority" and John B Judis and Ruy Texiera's 2004 offering "The Emerging Democratic Majority". But according to author Sean Trende history has proven that this is simply not the case at all. His new book "The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs--and Who Will Take It" makes an extremely convincing case that not only has this not been the case in the past but that realignment is even less likely to occur in the future.

In the Introduction to "The Lost Majority" Sean Trende hints at where this book is headed when he notes "When we clear out the muck dredged up by the realignment theorists and reexamine electoral history in a fresh light, we see scores of "lost majorities" littering the electoral landscape." Trende goes on to say that "voter coalitions in a broad, diverse country are inherently fragile. Issues that cause disparate groups to band together tend to fade quickly, while new issues arise that can put these groups at loggerheads." Time and again in "The Lost Majority" Trende presents examples of broad coalitions that inevitably splintered apart. All of this may come as a shock to partisan pundits like Chuck Todd and Karl Rove but a close examination of the facts seems to speak for themselves.

In Part I of "The Lost Majority" Trende shows us "How We Got Here". Many historians will tell you that the 1932 election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was certainly one of those "realignment" elections. But the author counters this notion with polling data that suggests that as the 1930's wore on more and more voters were against expanding the New Deal. According to Trende "fifty-eight percent opposed Roosevelt's court-packing plan, fifty-three percent favored relief reductions, while 79 percent opposed direct payments to relief recipients." This is certainly not the history of this period that I have been taught. As Sean Trende points out this is just one of many examples of the party in power erroneously believing that they had a mandate from the voters that really did not exist. And more often than not there is a price to be paid for "overreaching".

In Part II of the book the author tries to give us some sense of "Where We Are" right now. Perhaps the most instructive part of this portion of the book is a wide-ranging 2007 survey of voters conducted by the Pew Research Group. The poll uncovered the fact that American attitudes had changed very little on the issues since 1987. Furthermore, the poll revealed that attitudes were not appreciably less "conservative" than they had been in the heyday of the Reagan administration. Very interesting indeed! Despite all the proclamations by the so-called "experts" on the right and on the left the American people as a whole remain slightly right of center and have continued to split their vote in both Congressional and Presidential elections. Furthermore, it appears that more and more Congressional seats are now in play. In fact, according to Michael Barone of Real Clear Politics each party has held more than 300 of the House seats at least once in the past two decades. This is just one more fact that tends to debunk all of those "realignment" theories.

In the final chapters of "The Lost Majority" Sean Trende considers "Where We Go From Here". Once again, the preponderance of the evidence presented by the author tends to downplay the possibility of any kind of major "realignment" taking place any time soon. From where I sit I found the data on "Latinos" and the so-called "youth" and "minority" vote to be of particular interest. Once again the facts do not support the conventional wisdom of the "chattering" class. Meanwhile, Trende continues to drive home the point that economic cycles, unforeseen events, the tendency by the party in power to "overreach" and "bad" candidates all tend to work against the possibility of major realignments.

At the end of the day I would have to say that "The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs--and Who Will Take It" is a ground-breaking book that shatters much of the conventional wisdom that so many Americans take for granted. I found the well-placed charts and graphs presented throughout the book to be a great help in helping to drive home the author's most salient points. "The Lost Majority" is a well-written and meticulously researched book that would be a great choice for history buffs, political junkies and general readers alike. Very highly recommended!

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April 11, 2012
There is no majority in this election cycle. The President is a Democrat and the Congress is split Republican. The United States Supreme Court tilts Republican so the government itself is almost perfectly counterbalanced. Health care can work only if the American people eat better food and exercise at every level of school and the workplace itself. Pick up a can of soda and look at the ingredients. There are 30-40 grams of sugar in every can. We need to reduce this level of sugar content to 15 grams or so. We need more organic food in poor neighborhoods in particular. We need to emphasize commando military troop strength instead of sending thousands of soldiers overseas. We need a real solar energy policy implementation at every level of government. Schools need to teach the classics so that students learn vocabulary more comprehensively. We need to bolster the Section 8 program instead of trying to put everyone into a home.
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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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In today’s fraught political climate, one thing is indisputable: the dream of the emerging Democratic majority is dead. How did the Democrats, who seemed unstoppable only two short years ago, lose their momentum so quickly, and what does it mean for the future of our two-party system? Here, RealClearPolitics senior analyst Sean Trende explores the underlying weaknesses of the Democratic promise of recent years, and shows how unlikely a new era of liberal values always was as demonstrated by the current backlash against unions and other Democratic pillars. Persuasively arguing that both Republicans and Democrats are failing to connect with the real values of the American people - and that long-held theories of cyclical political "realignments" are baseless - Trende shows how elusive a true and lasting majority is in today’s climate, how Democrats can make up for the ground they’ve lost, and how Republicans can regain power and credibility. Trende’s surprising insights include:

The South didn’t shift toward the Republicans because of racism, but because of economics.

Barack Obama’s 2008 win wasn’t grounded in a new, transformative coalition, but in a narrower version of Bill Clinton’s coalition.

The Latino vote is not a given for the Democrats; as they move up the economic ladder, they will start voting Republican.

Even before the recent fights about the public sector, Democratic strongholds like unions were no ...

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