James T. Kloppenberg: The 2012 Election And The Future of The PartiesRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: Republican Party, Democratic Party, James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard University, Footnotes, 2012 election
James T. Kloppenberg is the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University. He has a Ph.D. in History and Humanities from Stanford and has held fellowships from the Danforth, Whiting, and Guggenheim foundations, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His 2010 book Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition explores Obama’s political philosophy and commitment to democratic deliberation.
The election of 2012 is behind us. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have completed their last campaigns and given their final victory and concession speeches.
It is time to reflect on the persistent themes that characterized the campaign and locate the election in relation to the parties’ trajectories in recent years. Identifying those themes might explain, better than pundits’ fascination with demography or with politics as a game of imagery and maneuver, the reasons why the president was reelected by a larger margin than many analysts predicted.
It is not the atmospherics of their campaigns, but the substance of Obama’s and Romney’s stated goals and programs, the ideals they championed and the directions in which they wanted to take the nation, that reveal why the president’s message resonated with a majority of American voters. The candidates and their parties presented two competing and ultimately incompatible visions of America that have deep roots in our nation’s history. Most Republicans distrust government, particularly the federal government, and put their faith in free enterprise. Most Democrats, as they have done for a century, consider government regulation of the economy necessary to protect the most vulnerable Americans.
Although campaign observers warned repeatedly during the months preceding the election that they did not sense the energy or the commitment of Democratic voters that they found so striking in 2008, members of many groups – including ethnic and racial minorities, unmarried women, poor people, and Catholics, Jews, and liberal Protestants – ended up turning out in large numbers and voting for Obama by equally large or even larger majorities this time.(a) Why?...
comments powered by Disqus
- Betsy DeVos Press Release Celebrates Jim Crow Education System as Pioneer of “School Choice”
- Eisenhower Concluded Neither U.S. Military Operations Nor Popular Uprisings Were Feasible in Soviet-Controlled Eastern Europe, Despite “Rollback” Rhetoric
- Jesse Jackson: It’s ok to leave Confederate monuments in place, but tell the full story
- Taiwan Commemorates a Violent Nationalist Episode, 70 Years Later
- As Albania Reckons With Its Communist Past, Critics Say It’s Too Late
- Mostafa el-Abbadi, Champion of Alexandria’s Resurrected Library, Dies at 88
- James Oliver Horton remembered as a pioneer for African American research
- Theodore Lowi, Zealous Scholar of Presidents and Liberalism, Dies at 85
- What LT. Gen. H.R. McMaster will offer as new national security adviser
- Fareed Zakaria hails historian Nigel Hamilton’s series as the memoir FDR never had the opportunity to write