Forty Years Ago at the DNC

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American Heritage has an interesting piece up that recounts the Democratic National Convention of 1964, set at a pre-gambling, post-heyday Atlantic City. The author, Joshua Zeitz, makes a strong case that the donkey party's presidential woes start from that spectacle, not the outta control '68 debacle that came four years later. A snippet:

[Due to disagreements over civil rights,] white Southerners…bolted the Democratic party after the 1964 convention, and they?ve hardly looked back since. And though the Democratic party ultimately wooed back the dissidents of 1968, it did so at a steep price. By embracing such controversial ideas as environmentalism, reproductive rights, gay rights, opposition to the Vietnam War, and gun control, the Democrats opened themselves to criticism that their party was aggressively secular and culturally extreme?a charge that still bedevils them.

Whole thing here.

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  1. If I had more time the article would be interested. As it is, it’s a miasma of “subcommittees”.

    Support for civil rights is all well and good, but the current Dems have turned it into a bash-those-whites-who-are-not-enlightened-like-us fest.

    Like a feudal prince reaching out to the various ethnic groups that live on his land through their tribal elders, John Kerry continues his outreach to Hyphenated-Americans.

  2. False and True.

    The southern white Democrats who walked away in 1964 and have not looked back were white supremecists and segregationists (who supported George Wallace 4 years later), hardly a majority — anymore — of southern whites.

    The comment about 1968 is part of the truth. However, the other part of the truth relates to 4 years after that, when the Democrats nominated George McGovern, against whom the “wedge issues” were anti-libertarian: The Republicans seized upon his opposition to the war, military overspending and the draft, his pro-choice stand on abortion, and support for decriminalization of marijuana; they exaggerated these and labeled him the “Triple-A candidate of Amnesty, Abortion and Acid”.

    Since then, Democratic nominees for President have been timid or have changed colors on military spending and prohibition issues. And probably the only thing that kept them from the same trend on abortion was the fact that in 1973, Roe v. Wade did the job for them, so that they were in the position of defending a status quo.

    I believe if the Democrats had consistently taken and defended libertarian stands on personal freedoms and against adventurism in foreign policy, they would have by now elected their own paradigm-shifting Reagan.

  3. Any candidate that hopes to win a national election, or even a state-wide election in a competitive state, must adopt positions on gay rights, the environment, reproductive rights, and gun control that are in line with, or even to the left of, the Democrats 1964 platform.

    These stances may have hurt Democratic politicians, but the progressive ideas are now the American mainstream, such that even conservatives have to disguise their opposition if they hope to win.

  4. Does Kerry-hating-American count?

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