In 1969, Kevin P. Phillips wrote a book called The Emerging Republican Majority, which explained the rationale of a nation which he believed would move firmly to the right. His analysis proved correct as the last forty years have only seen three out of the last ten elections being won by Democrats. From Nixon to Reagan to Bush Jr, the Republicans have held a steady majority in the country and seemingly could do no wrong among their constituency. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were the only Democrats who could break through their iron grip on the White House and Capitol Hill. The Democratic presidents before this time were aplenty, but left-wing politics were perceived differently, particularly before the cultural changes of the sixties.
With the rise of these social and cultural issues into mainstream politics, and the image of the Democrats as being soft on Communism both fueled a visceral reaction on the part of Southerners and rural Americans into the embrace of conservative and Republican politics. A clumsy alliance was made through adopting socially conservative issues with their newly acquired electorate, which were formerly Democratic voters. The right, before the transformations of the sixties was primarily a party of big business and New England politicos, thoroughly disconnected from small town America.
With our most recent election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, many on the right are reeling at it’s implications. Erratic, conspiratorial paranoia exude from the fringes and exclamations about the situational disadvantages that the Republicans were in are ruling the day in the mainstream. As if it’s only a temporary predicament brought about by an ailing economy and a very unpopular president in George Bush. None of these are wholly accountable for the change, it’s much more straightforward as to why a Democratic era is on the horizon and the end of Republican domination is in sight. The combination of a more open-minded and accepting culture in the youth, along with immigrant populations which vote heavily to the left have reached a tipping point over the old Republican majority. It’s unlikely that conservative politics will make inroads among these groups, as the rising inertia of their politics will reinforce it’s own ideology.
As Kevin P. Phillips wrote in 1969 of the nation’s political future, one may write in 2009 of an emerging Democratic majority. The body of voters that make up the Democratic base are only going to grow. We may see a reversal of roles, with the Democrats holding the torch for the next forty years. It’s an open question as to how the right will react and seek to restore their ascendancy, but considering how they’ve shrewdly marketed themselves in the past, they may not be down for long.