[sixties-l] (fwd) speaking of 'coups'

From: Ted Morgan (epm2@lehigh.edu)
Date: 12/16/00

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    ublished on Saturday, December 16, 2000 in the Washington Post
          Fissures Widening Among Democrats
          After Gore's Loss
          DLC charges that the populist themes of Gore's campaign were a
          factor in his loss
          by Thomas B. Edsall
          The war between the populist and centrist wings of the Democratic
    Party broke out into the
          open yesterday as they struggled to set the direction of the
          The opening guns were fired by officials of the Democratic
    Leadership Council--a bastion of
          loyalists to Vice President Gore's running mate, Connecticut Sen.
    Joseph I. Lieberman, a
          centrist and possible candidate himself for the White House in
          At a morning briefing, the DLC charged that the populist themes of
    Gore's campaign were a
          major factor in his loss to George W. Bush, scaring away just the
    voters he needed to
          achieve victory.
          "Bush won the white working class [with household incomes below
    $75,000 a year] by 13
          points," said Will Marshall, head of the the DLC's Progressive
    Policy Institute headquarters.
          "The message does not seem to have prevailed with the group it was
    supposed to be aimed
          The DLC had been a key Gore backer this year, and the loss of the
    group's support could
          damage his prospects to run again in four years.
          Major proponents of the populist message, including Gore's
    pollster Stanley Greenberg,
          counterattacked. This left-progressive wing, which is likely to
    back House Minority Leader
          Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) in 2004, argued that the populist
    message worked fine but that
          Gore was undone by the conservative moral and cultural attacks on
    the Clinton
          administration that began in 1992 and continue to the present.
          The Democratic fault lines that reemerged yesterday are an
    extension of an internal battle
          that began in the elections of 1968 and 1972, continued unabated
    with the unsuccessful
          candidacies of Walter F. Mondale and Michael S. Dukakis in 1984
    and 1988, but were
          successfully muted by Bill Clinton through the 1990s.
          The battles have been fought over racial issues, especially busing
    and affirmative action;
          over crime and welfare; and most recently over the identification
    of the key constituencies to
          win elections. The populist wing argues that white voters without
    college degrees hold the
          balance of power while the centrist wing contends that "wired
    workers" who use the Internet,
          and in many cases own stock, are the key voting bloc.
          "It's no secret that I think the populism approach hurt us with
    critical swing voters,
          particularly wired voters and men in the new economy. We were hurt
    because we were
          viewed in this election as being too liberal and too much in favor
    of big government," said
          DLC head Al From.
          Greenberg sharply disputed the DLC claims. "Gore's attacks on Bush
    and the thematic and
          issue contrasts successfully defined Bush as a candidate of the
    wealthy and most
          privileged, who would potentially endanger Social Security, oppose
    a woman's right to
          choose and whose Texas record left him with uncertain experience
    for the job."
          While Greenberg acknowledged that this year "Democrats lost ground
    with noncollege white
          voters, particularly with noncollege white women," he argued, "the
    populist theme was very
          attractive to the white, noncollege electorate. But populism is
    not just a material concept, it
          has a strong values component."
          The Gore populism theme of the "people" against "the powerful"
    worked effectively during
          the convention, winning the support of down-scale whites, but,
    Greenberg said, these gains
          were quickly eroded as Republicans focused on issues of trust and
    honesty, and Gore
          faced intense criticism for a series of misstatements and
          "Gore began to lose that margin when trust and values issues were
    raised at end of
          September," Greenberg said. Noncollege educated whites began to
    "hold back because of
          the culture war to bring down Clinton that has been waged since
          Ruy Teixeira, a leading advocate of the importance of appealing to
    white, working-class
          voters to build a Democratic majority, contended the problem was
    not that Gore used a
          populist message, but that he failed to fill it out beyond
    promising to protect such existing
          social insurance programs as Social Security and Medicare.
    Teixeira said that because
          Bush was able to stake out positions that quieted fears of GOP
    assaults on these
          programs, Gore needed to present programs, especially in
    education, showing how he
          would help working-class voters and their children in ways the GOP
    would not.
          From contended that Gore's populism was the equivalent of a retail
    store's "loss leader," a
          way of building up temporary support among Democratic base voters
    that carried the high
          cost of alienating moderates who dislike polarizing messages based
    on class divisions.
          Mark Penn, who polled for the DLC, said: "The populist message is
    by itself a limiting
          message. . . . It had a lot of negative resonance with precisely
    the voters Gore had to win to
          get above 50 percent on Election Day."
          From and Marshall argued that the nation's rising affluence and
    the declining share of the
          work force employed in traditional manufacturing jobs makes
    populism increasingly
          irrelevant. Almost none of the 22 million new jobs created over
    the past eight years are in
          manufacturing, they said, and the ratio of low-income voters
    (below $30,000) to
          upper-income voters (over $75,000) has changed from 3 to 1 over
    these eight years to a
          slight edge for upper-income jobs.
                              2000 The Washington Post Company

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