Via Digby, Rick Perlstein, the author of the well received Nixonland writes about the republican ascendancy after the Fair Housing Act passed and republicans turned into the party for those who were fighting the rearguard action against civil rights.
The concentration on Chicago is personally painful, yet apt: the democrat loses to the republican, the working class is coopted by the rich, in what can only be called the Great Distraction. As he sums up:
Here is the fundamental tragedy of the backlash: Voters like this empowered a party that decided they didn't need .....every decent and wise social provision that made it possible in the first place for mere factory workers to live in glorious Chicago bungalows, or suburban homes, in the first place.
Long story short: Douglas soldiered on, imploring his constituents to remember the favors they had received from the Democratic Party—entree, for one thing, into the world's first mass middle class of factory workers. To no avail. Percy won in an upset. Pundits said it was because Percy's daughter had just been brutally murdered; it was a sympathy vote. But if people voted for Percy because he was a grieving father, the ratio of the sympathetic to the callous was suspiciously high in the Bungalow Belt neighborhoods where Martin Luther King had marched. A ward analysis demonstrated that in Chicago neighborhoods threatened by racial turnover, new Percy voters were enough to account for Douglas's 80 percent decline in the city since 1960. Pundits also pointed to people's unwillingness to vote for such an old man. But in the backlash wards younger Democrats declined almost as significantly.
No, it was voters like this, from 4315 W. Crystal:
A few years ago I had written you a letter stating how I and my family would welcome the opportunity to vote you in to the highest office in the land--The Presidency. Since that time however your support of the open occupancy bill has caused me to change my support of your candidacy for senator of Illinois, and believe me sir there are many more in my category who are changing in their support of you.
Here is the fundamental tragedy of the backlash: Voters like this empowered a party that decided they didn't need protection against predatory subprime mortgage fraud. Didn't need affordable, universal health insurance; made it easier for companies to rape their pensions; kept on going back to the well to destroy their Social Security; worked avidly to shred their union protections. Fought, in fact, every decent and wise social provision that made it possible in the first place for mere factory workers to live in glorious Chicago bungalows, or suburban homes, in the first place.
Now a black man from the city King visited in 1966 and called more hateful than Mississippi is running for president, fighting for all those things that made the mid-century American middle class the glory of world civilization, but which that middle class squandered out of the small-mindedness of backlash.
This post is for Chicago. This post is for America. This post is for our future. This post is for our history—that we may redeem it. This post is for a man who, had he walked down the wrong street in his own city 42 years ago, might well have been beaten to death.
And Obama is going to help stop the ability of the Republican Party to divide and conquer the many in favor of the few.
UPDATE: Maybe putting that in the title will help readership.
Anywho, Al Giordano says
The first is that the Obama campaign is the first mass multi-racial collaboration in the United States since the Southern Civil Rights movement........
Those of us, in recent decades, that organized (or tried to organize) political movements ran up against tremendous inertia in that most Americans - including "progressives" - did not really want to collaborate with people that were not nearly identical to themselves: in appearance, education level, and ideology.
That has suddenly changed. The black-white progressive alliance that was responsible for every advance in American politics in the middle of the last century is back. And that makes organizing of future political movements - electoral and non-electoral - possible again.
The second breakthrough is that a critical mass of progressive Americans are learning political discipline again: the disciplines that had been carried like rare seeds through a decades-long desert by the few and the proud that had continued the study and practice of community organizing.