This is, I hope, my last post ever about politics in the US.
In early 1991, I met a political analyst who worked for what was then Prudential Securities. His main idea was that even then the two major political parties were finding it difficult to retain relevance for contemporary Americans. Leaders who were fundamentally shaped in the early twentieth-century economic struggle between working people and big business–long since been decided (in favor of labor)–were finding it hard to move on.
As a result, he thought, Democrats had a social/cultural program that defined them but no economic one. Republicans still had their small government and laissez-faire ideas, which had only narrow popular relevance. The GOP was–mistakenly, in his opinion–trying to broaden its appeal beyond its small base by courting the religious right. (My acquaintance remained silent about the subtly racist the “Southern strategy” embraced by Republicans since Nixon as another means of bulking up.)
That was twenty five years ago…
…but to my admittedly not so politically-oriented mind, it remains a good description of today’s state of play.
Maybe that’s the fundamental problem. Hillary Clinton is a Democratic figure my grandfathers (both immigrants, both Democrats, both union members–a longshoreman and a NYC trolley car driver) would have loved. The Republicans have so little cohesion that their standard has been hijacked by an outsider winning discontented party members with a ludicrous promise to reinvigorate industries that prospered in the US of the 1950s.
The popularity of Bernie Sanders and the lack of a viable alternative to Donald Trump illustrate how out of touch the leadership of both parties has become.
My guess is that we’re in the early stages of a fundamental rethink of the political status quo that has dominated the US for generations.