A shock is coming to the system. What party will be ready for this?

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There was no red wave.

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There wasn’t even a red spot.

Against most expectations, and in the face of crushing fundamentals, the Democratic Party has held its own against a hungry and aggressive Republican Party.

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He overturned seats and houses in Michigan, held his ground in Virginia and Wisconsin, and fought Republicans to deadlock in Arizona and a runoff in Georgia.

Not that Election Day was perfect for Democrats, but even with losses in Florida, Texas, and crucial election races in New York, Democrats could still say theirs was victory. better medium-term performance for a president’s party since Republicans won seats in the 2002 election under George W. Bush e the best for Democrats since the party won seats in the Senate John F. Kennedy in 1962.

But for all the drama of this election, and for all the stakes, it is also true that 2022 is another cycle in which the landscape of the general election has changed less than one might imagine.

There has been no avalanche, no decisive victory for one side over the other.

The same thing happened in 2020: the victory of Joe Biden On Donald Trump must be balanced with significant defeats in the House.

Even in 2018, an apparent election “surge” saw something of a split decision, with a Democrat win in the House of Representatives and a Republican win in the Senate.

Go back to 2016 or 2012 and you’ll see the same thing:

a country divided almost equally, where neither advance nor retreat moves more than a few inches.

That neither the Republican nor the Democratic coalition can achieve anything like the hegemony about the political system is unusual in the history of American politics.

To get started, think about how we mark political time:

referring to the times of ideological and partisan domination.

For example, what we usually remember as the “age of good feelings,” the period from the end of the war in 1812 to the presidential election of 1824, was essentially a period of one-party leadership in the United States government.

Remember, this really wasn’t an era of good feelings.

There were serious political disagreements and strife and, in particular, a growing sectoral divide between the (mostly) free North and the (mostly) enslaved South.

For example, the year that James Monroe he ran unopposed for re-election the same year, 1820, that Americans almost came to blows over the expansion of slavery in Missouri and other western territories.

The expression “good feelings”, therefore, refers less to the absence of political conflict than to the total collapse of partisan competition among the elites.

After 16 years on the fringes under the Democratic-Republican presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and John Jay had dwindled to little more than a limited faction confined to the remaining New England strongholds. .

Staunch Federalist opposition to the Second Anglo-American War (the governor of Massachusetts even refused to send troops to fight the British) had brought the party to breaking point with the public.

In 1816 andthe last federalist in the race for the presidency, King Rufus from New York, who fought in the Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, and signed the Constitution, lost to Monroe (another Virginia member) in a popular and electoral landslide.

With the federalist defeat came the democratic-republican rise.

The planters, slaveholders, farmers and merchants who propelled the Democratic-Republican Party to victory in six consecutive elections had assumed a dominant role in the political and social development of the United States.

if the hegemony it is the process by which a class obtains and then exercises political, intellectual and moral leadership over society as a whole, “to such an extent,” wrote the literary and social critic Raymond Williams, “that the pressures and limitations of that ultimately be seen as a specific economic, political and cultural system, to most of us seem the pressures and limits of simple experience and common sense” – then the Democrats-Republicans could be said to have achieved something akin to hegemony in American society, if only for a moment.

Other more recent periods of hegemony in American politics include the order of the New deal and the next Reagan revolutionwhich framed the terms of American politics and decision-making for nearly two decades afterward ronaldo reagan He left office in 1989.

Early to mid 19th century. century, we see something similar in the long dominance of the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, which collapsed on the eve of the sectoral crisis.

If there is a period like ours, with two evenly matched coalitions, each striving for lasting victory over the other, it is the late nineteenth century, with its sharp partisan polarization.
and a surprisingly high turnout.

Then, as now, the margins were tight; then, as now, the fighting was fierce; and then, as now, the combination of the two prompted some of the strongest and most ideological supporters to try to rig the game in their favor.

So what changed things was essentially a shock for the system.

The collapse of the populist movement, the rise of Jim Crow in the South and the suppression of labor across the country consolidated the control of industrial capital, operating primarily through the Republican Party, over the entire political system.

It would take a catastrophe, the great Depressionto loosen it completely.

I think we have another round, or two, three or four, of closely contested election cycles ahead without a decisive victory or defeat for either party.

But something will come.

Something, be it economic, environmental or constitutional, will shake up the system and give one or the other coalition the opportunity to expand and try to gain hegemony over the political system.

The question on my mind is which forces in this country are best organized, for better or for worse, to draw upon when something finally strikes.

c.2022 The New York Times Society

Source: Clarin

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