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Have the Democrats Really Changed?

3:24 PM, May 31, 2012 • By JAY COST
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Or look at the Congress. What has happened to the New Democrats? How about the Blue Dogs? All those Southern moderates? What about the DLC? They have disappeared, and the Northern liberals have consolidated their control over the leadership positions, at least in the House. (And note that this was before the 2010 sweep -- this group had been on the ropes for years, often taking heat from their own party, e.g. Joe Lieberman.) What about those left wing interest groups? Has the influence of the environmentalist movement increased or decreased since the early 1990s? What about the more leftist unions like the NEA, AFSCME and the SEIU?

And what about Al Gore? He went from being a moderate Southern Democrat in the 1980s to a fire-breathing leftwinger today. How do we explain that?

The biggest evidence of change in the party coalition is the Obama primary campaign in 2008. What did Obama mean, after all, when he talked about a "transformational" presidency? Given what he said throughout the campaign trail, he obviously meant moving away from the Clintonian ways of moderate, poll-tested, small-ball policy formulations. He was going to go big ... and liberal.

The assertion that the Democrats have not changed much in the last 40, 30, 20, or even 10 years belongs in the fantasy fiction section of the local library. It’s a myth.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.

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