President Barack Obama is in office, the Democrats lead both chambers of Congress, and political pundit James Carville is confident that this is the way its going to be for another 40 years.
Carvilles new book, 40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation, evaluates every main issue important to voters and explains how the Democrats response will gain a generation of devoted supporters. He also details where the GOP made mistakes in terms of its appeal to voters and how those missteps cost them the 2008 elections and beyond.
He cites the infamous memo by political consultant Matthew Dowd as the main bullet wounding the GOP. Carville summarizes the point of the memo: Dont appeal to swing voters because theyre a waste of time. Instead, the GOP, which seems to have taken Dowds advice, has focused on its base voters and driven independents away. Thus, Carville writes, the party is left with diminishing support as its main demographic of middle-aged white males decreases. Meanwhile, Carville argues, the Democrats have scooped up the swing voters.
Even before the 2008 elections, which showed the enormous effect of youth voters, Carville had written much of the book and had chosen a title. In a phone interview, he said the 2004 elections gave insight about how young voters would affect the 2008 elections. The uncertainties during the Democratic primaries delayed the books release, but Carville said he was not surprised by the Democratic win in November: The forces and the trends in American politics, I think, favor the Democrats.
Dissatisfaction with the Bush administration continues to give the Democrats another step ahead, Carville writes. The impact of the Bush policies will linger and remind voters of the incompetence of the Republican Party in the past, he says. In addition, Carville explains that studies show political views are generated when voters are young adults, and they rarely stray from that later in life.
The reminder of the Bush years is not the only or even the main strategy for the Democrats. In fact, their strongest strategy, Carville says, is their presentation of facts. He looks at issues such as global warming, evolution and homosexuality to argue that the Democrats take the side of science. In the phone interview, Carville said the parties should not be arguing about matters they cant settle, but instead arguing about matters they can change. The issue of global warming is not debatable, he said, but the solution can and should be discussed.
Also, while Republicans have tried to argue they are the party of fiscal responsibility, Carville includes a chart that shows otherwise. A graph of the macroeconomic performance under Democratic and Republican presidents from 1948 to 2005 shows that unemployment was higher under Republican presidents while growth of gross domestic product was lower. However, Democrats did have a slightly higher inflation rate. Carville cites a chapter full of charts and graphs as his favorite chapter in the book.
What we talk about is taking a realistic approach to problems, he said. The idea of a kind of singular cure-all is not what people are looking for. They are looking for a government that deals realistically with the problems at hand.
Carville closes the book with a friends Hurricane Katrina survival story. The man tells in his own words how he was not warned about the seriousness of the storm, how he dealt with the disorganization regarding his temporary housing in Texas and finally how he returned to the area and restarted his familys life there. The story is powerful; most of all its shocking to hear what one New Orleans resident and his family endured, and it leaves a lasting impression.
Carville included the story as an afterword because he thought it was poignant. It can also serve as a test for whether these stories will help the Democrats win for 40 more years.