Daley Machine Nervous: Political Realignment in the Works?

by Paul A. Rahe

For some time now — here, here, and here — I have been arguing what at first must have seemed counterintuitive: that a great political realignment may be in the works.

Today, in The Washington Post, William M. Daley warns his fellow Democrats that they are in danger of bringing just such a realignment about. After alluding to the announced retirements of four centrist Democrats in the House and to Parker Griffith’s switch to the Republican side, Daley argues that “the Democratic Party — my lifelong political home — has a critical decision to make: Either we plot a more moderate, centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come.”

The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.
Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year’s off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents — many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.

Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama’s approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower — 41 percent — among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup’s generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.

Griffith and the Democrats who have decided to retire are, Daley says, “the truest canaries in the coal mine.”

Bill Daley is a man well worth listening to. His father was a legendary machine politician and longtime mayor in Chicago; and his brother has for sometime held that office. Bill Daley is himself the man behind the curtain. He was Clinton’s Secretary of Commerce, he chaired Al Gore’s presidential campaign back in 2000, and, as is widely acknowledged, he is the brains behind today’s Chicago machine. He is also a leading Catholic layman, and he knows just how explosive the abortion question could be. He would not have written this op-ed had he not been profoundly worried.

The article continues at BigGovernment.com

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