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Thoughts on Our Present Discontents: Return of the Turtles?


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Steven Hayward

Mar. 1 2020

In surveying the current political scene, let us take in the observations of a prominent political scientist:

The United States is witnessing a transformation of political styles. Traditional party politicians are being challenged not only on the substance of public policy but on their conduct of political activity. It is their behavior as political men as well as their position on issues that is under attack. Whatever their disagreements on specific policies, left and right-wing activists compete in excoriating the immorality of men in office. Everyone else has sold out, they say, and only we remain pure.


Sounds like a description of the Tea Party-to-Trump phenomenon of 2016, and the “Resistance-to-Bernie” phenomenon of this year, no? Actually the prominent political scientist who wrote those words was the late Aaron Wildavsky, way back in 1971. He was reacting then chiefly to the New Left takeover of the Democratic Party in 1968, then just beginning, though he thought the Goldwater insurgency in the Republican Party in 1964 bore some of the same hallmarks as the Democrats’ experience in 1968.

Lately I’ve been re-reading lot of Wildavsky’s old work for a project I’m working on at the moment (details to come), and it is amazing how well it holds up after 30 – 50 years, especially for its diagnosis of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party today. (I think it is fair to say that Wildavsky was a garden-variety centrist liberal Democrat most of his career, but started moving right in the 1970s. He died in 1995.)


And now, on to Super Tuesday!



Nothing to do with the article...............


But I like the song. :D

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