Stanley B. Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and a co-founder of Democracy Corps. He is a co-editor of The New Majority: Toward a Popular Progressive Politics, published by Yale University Press.
Today's presidential candidates navigate a partisan landscape strikingly more Democratic than that in 2004 and even 2006. Poll after poll confirms the president's low job approval and the public's contempt for the Republican Party. For the first time since 1989, the Pew poll shows a majority of voters now call themselves Democrats, and polling for Democracy Corps (of which I'm a co-founder) shows a Democratic advantage that's grown even larger since the 2006 election.
The story of the Democratic Party crisis begins in Macomb County, north of the Detroit City line -- and in Northeast Philadelphia, Cobb County near Atlanta, California's San Fernando Valley, and numerous other working- and middle-class neighborhoods across the country. These were the homes of loyal Democrats: people who felt at ease in a diverse, bottom-up, majority coalition that used politics and government to advance the interests of working people. But here we find alienated voters today with little good to say about politics or Democrats.
I heard those disaffected voices in Macomb County in 1985, when
Stanley B. Greenberg's Fall 1991 article, “From Crisis to Working Majority,” was widely considered a key manifesto for the 1992 Clinton campaign. Bob Woodward reported that Bill Clinton said he had read it three times.
On the eve of Bill Clinton's announced candidacy for president, I reviewed a wave of provocative books about the “deepening crisis of the Democratic Party.” With Michael Dukakis' hapless campaign as backdrop, the books described a party of taxes and big government, entrapped by special interests, perhaps condemned to a permanent minority status.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush told a rapt nation and the assembled government of the United States that our nation faces grave threats and must live up to its "great responsibilities," which include defending the "pillars of our civilization": our "families and schools and religious congregations." What is more, he warned, America can only be strong if we "value the institution of marriage." Citing the threat of activist judges poised to impose gay marriage on a reluctant nation, Bush vowed to "defend the sanctity of marriage."