The Polarizers

Polarizers by Sam Rosenfeld

After WW2 Democrats and Republicans agreed on most issues.

Each party was a broad church — there was diversity on both sides.

But in the 50s they started to eye up each other’s voter base.

The Democrats were starting to get more votes in the north so they decided, on a national level, to become more ‘liberal’.

This alienated many of their southern voters. The Democrats had turned their back on them. By 1960 they had chosen to become a party of ‘principle’.

Lyndon Johnson warned against such a move.

Perhaps he believed in more transactional politics. Do something because it is going to work. Not because it’s ‘the right thing to do’.

Meanwhile the Republicans went a step further and openly debated whether principles even belonged in politics.

Their decision to court Southern Democrats on the basis that they were opposed to civil rights alienated the liberal parts of the Republican party that backed equal treatment for all.

My own research into Conservatism has taught me that conservatives rarely believe in anything. They are hardly ever idealistic. Their views change over time. They are generally pragmatists. They opt for what is convenient.

Trump, like Reagan, managed to get a lot of Democrats to vote Republican.

So where does Jeremy Corbyn’s gentler type of politics fit into all this?

50s Republicans objected to the New Deal because it gave people the impression that the government would look after them.

Silicon Valley and the Labour Party are talking about Universal Basic Income.

Given that many of the tech firms park their profits in Ireland and the Caribbean their commitment to solidarity looks flexible to say the least.

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