(Graphic credit: Mario Loundermon)
Gary Sick of Columbia University sent me today this fascinating and thoughtful essay, “The Coming Liberal Cycle,” written by Matthew Kohut.
Read the whole thing — particularly the comparison of Howard Dean to Barry Goldwater who took nearly two decades to see his views bubble up as mainstream conservatism — but here’s the start:
Barack Obama says he’s running for president because “we find ourselves in a moment…that comes along once in a generation.” Hillary is running because “we need a fundamentally new direction.” John Edwards is running “to end the corrupt system in Washington, and return the power of this government back to the hard-working people of America.” All three know one thing for certain: most Americans feel the country is on the wrong track. Each of them has spent the past year or longer making the case that he or she is uniquely qualified to reverse that trend.
Consider the 2008 presidential front-runners from both parties. Beyond the many possible demographic “firsts” (woman / African-American / Italian-American / Mormon), think about a deeper question: could one of the current crop have the potential to set in motion a lasting transformation of the political landscape? Fifty years from now, will the name of one of today’s candidates be used to describe an entire political age?
History strongly suggests that is the right time to ask. As twilight sets on the Bush administration, we are witnessing the end of the second of two great ideological cycles that have dominated American politics over the past 75 years. For the sake of simplicity, call them the Liberal Era (1932-1968) and the Conservative Era (1980-2008). If the pattern holds, a third cycle may be right around the corner.
Fascinating article. Greetings from Pittsburgh — where it’s snowing big flakes.
— Steve Clemons