From the Right



Still saddled with the politics of the seventies

Michael Barone on

Donald Trump's experiences give him a different perspective, one firmly anchored in New York City. For him, the 1970s were a time of increasing crime and disorder, of manipulation of rules and regulations by political insiders -- a time when modest-income white ethnics were disparaged and driven by the hundreds of thousands from the city.

In the 1990s, elite opinion was encapsulated when the editorial page of the New York Times relentlessly attacked Mayor Rudy Giuliani's crime-fighting policies and welfare reforms. Liberals dismissed them as fascist and authoritarian, heading toward Hitlerism. Trump, who could see that Giuliani cut violent crime and welfare dependency by more than half, naturally dismissed such criticism, as he does similar statements about his own actions and policies today.

The 1970s saw the emergence of what Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg calls the coalition of the ascendant -- blacks, Hispanics, feminists, gays, public employee union members. That coalition, much larger today, was enough to give presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a plurality of the popular vote in 2016.

The 1970s also saw the demotion of white working class and ethnic voters as what they had been since the 1930s, the central mainstays and honored heroes of the Democratic party. Increasingly, Democratic politicians scorn them as racist, sexist and deplorable. Trump identified with them and opposed establishment free trade and immigration policies that he thought were hurting them.

Those voters have largely disappeared from New York City and coastal California. But they were numerous enough in Florida, Pennsylvania, the Midwest and northern Maine to switch 100 electoral votes and elect Trump in 2016.

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The result? We're still saddled with the politics and politicians of that slum of a decade, the 1970s.


Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

Copyright 2018 U.S. News and World Report. Distibuted by Creators Syndicate Inc.


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