I was totally persuaded by William Galston and Elaine Kamarck’s 1989 study, The Politics of Evasion, when they wrote, “Too many Americans have come to see the party as inattentive to their economic interests, indifferent if not hostile to their moral sentiments, and inattentive in defense of their national security.” At the time, I too was tired of winning only one presidential election over two decades, and averaging 42 percent of the vote.
In their new report, The New Politics of Evasion, I share their analysis on many of the same problems that keep the Democratic Party “in the grip of myths that block progress toward victory.” Count me in as an ally when they write now that Democrats have taken “stances on fraught social issues … that repel a majority of Americans,” and have failed to defuse the oft-repeated contention that they want to “defund the police.” Count me in when they write that “social, cultural, and religious issues” are at least as real as “economic considerations” in determining how people vote. And they are right that imposing a “politics of identity” on Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans put Democrats out of touch with the priorities of these populations: ending the COVID crisis, providing affordable health care, and reopening schools, getting higher pay, and checking big corporate power.
I thank Galston and Kamarck for raising these issues. But unfortunately, you don’t get any further help from them on removing the blinders that keep you from seeing America.