Michael Barone looks back on the 2004 election and is “struck by how many of the constituencies supporting Democratic candidates oppose, rather than seek, change — how they are motivated not by ideas about how to change the future, but by something like nostalgia for the past.” The Democratic party, he argues, is defined by 1930 era views on social security, 60s views on the state of race relations and the use of military force, and 70s views on feminism. Cosmetically at least, this state of affairs constitutes a reversal of roles from 1996 when the Democrats claimed they couldn’t “stop thinking about tomorrow,” while Bob Dole promised to be “a bridge to the past.”
Ironically, John Kerry, the icon of 1971, outpolled President Bush among young voters. The Democrats take heart from this, and reasonably so, although one wonders how much of a role Kerry’s scare talk about reinstating the draft played. In any case, it is doubtful that the Democrats can sustain any edge they might have with younger voters unless they adopt a less backward looking approach to the issues.
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