Review by Gregory Hilton
40 More Years: How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation was published on May 4, 2009, and the author was the architect of Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory. James Carville never imagined that six months after publication Democrats would lose governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, and were on the way to turning over Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
The book repeats many of the themes first expressed in 2004’s The Emerging Democratic Majority by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira. The Carville book originally sold for $24 but is now available on Ebay for 50 cents. I am ordering bulk copies to distribute as gifts because it is amazing to note that practically all of the author’s predictions were proven wrong in such a short period of time.
Carville believes Republicans stole the 2000 election and describes how Democrats came close to defeating George W. Bush in 2004 (50.7% to 48.3%). The narrow loss was a bitter disappointment for them, but Democrats learned valuable lessons from their defeat that year. This was especially true in the nation’s number one battleground state, Ohio, and two years later they would capture both a Senate seat and the governorship in the Buckeye State.
Carville claims Democrats such as Sen. Jim Webb (VA) were then able to portray themselves as “progressive patriots,” and this was instrumental to their 2006 recapture of Congress. The author is gleeful in telling the story of how Democrats obtained a House and Senate super majority two years later when they also won the presidency.
Democrats went from 45 to 60 Senators in four years.
Their House majority in the current 111th Congress is 255 Democrats to 178 Republicans. With a super majority it was no longer necessary for Democratic leaders to even talk to Republicans. They felt GOP viewpoints did not matter because important legislation could be passed without any GOP input.
The author is a passionate critic of George W. Bush and his “huge deficits.” He believes Bush will be regarded as the worst president in American history for involving the nation in an Iraq war which can not be won in his opinion. He says the “foolish” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created deficits and this ruined the GOP’s reputation for fiscal conservatism.
According to Carville, Republicans learned nothing from their 2008 setback and are now “pontificating on silly-ass things that have been decided a long time ago” such as global warming. Carville views Obama’s triumph as a permanent Democratic victory, and says his party should be able to retain control of Congress and the White House for the next four decades. He believes a future Republican victory is not possible because Democrats already have a governing majority composed of women, young people, suburbanites, African Americans and Latinos:
Since 2004, Americans have been witnessing and participating in the emergence of a Democratic majority that will last not four but forty years. . . Republicans shouldn’t be worried. They should be in agony. They should be throwing up. Republicans had better get a better policy on prescription drugs and quickly. They’re gonna need a lot more Prozac. . . The myth of Republican competence and fiscal responsibility is shattered. . . Let’s go out and spank the Republicans again and again.
Carville spoke about his book on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer and on the radio program Imus in the Morning:
In the 1950’s, about four in five voters were married white Christians. Now only two in five voters are married, white and Christian. Old whites vote Republican and will die out. They are being replaced by youth and non-whites. Young voters are moving to the Democrats at an alarmingly fast rate. Republicans no longer have any credibility and every demographic is trending Democratic. The demographic foundations of the Republican Party are crumbling. We are on the verge of another 40-year era of party dominance.
Democrats Have Won By Capturing Independents and the Center
The author highly praises the work of Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (IL) as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They adopted Ronald Reagan’s all inclusive big tent philosophy for the Democratic Party.
The author was in frequent contact with Emanuel when he served as White House Chief of Staff in the Obama Administration. Two decades ago Carville was responsible for an upset Democratic victory in a Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race. In this book he uses the 2006 landslide victory of Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) as an example.
While Democrats are strongly pro-choice, they were pragmatic enough to nominate the anti-abortion Casey who was able to oust a very conservative Republican incumbent (Rick Santorum). Democrats tried the same tactic in 2010 U.S. Senate campaigns in West Virginia and Louisiana when they nominated moderate conservatives.
The efforts of Dean and Emanuel, combined with opposition to the war in Iraq and ethical issues, resulted in the end of GOP Congressional control in 2006. Many of the moderate Democrats they elected were social conservatives, but aside from the health care debate, those were not significant concerns on the Congressional agenda.
The moderate, or Blue Dog Democrats, gave the party the margin they needed to pass major elements of the Obama agenda. House Democrats passed 422 bills which were later stopped in the Senate.
Will Republicans Be Able to Regain Power?
Carville does not see any prospects for a GOP revival because the party has ignored the center, and he believes it will be very difficult for them to win back independent voters. He says “Republicans have been quite literally set on destroying the world,” and “Contemporary American conservatism is an accumulation of reactionary, pseudopopulist, intellectually devoid whiners, xenophobes, racists, and Luddites.”
What Really Happened
Carville never imagined that massive liberal spending programs would push independents toward the GOP. He includes many charts and graphs to contrast Republican and Democratic economic programs. What he omits are the huge annual deficits, high unemployment, low economic growth and the tremendous unfunded liabilities.
The book says Obama will be a successful president because he understands the 24 hour news cycle and the media’s need for constant attention. He says Obama understands the importance of remaining on the offensive and driving the agenda, while Republicans just react to events.
Carville believes Obama will be seen as a non-partisan president who is fostering national unity. He compares Obama to Bill Clinton, but so far they have little in common. He says all Obama has to do is follow Clinton’s “solid, sensible policies,” but that has not happened. Clinton cooperated with a GOP Congress, and signed legislation passed by Republicans.
Obama has never demonstrated an interest in working with the other side. Obama has rejected the center and has instead presented a partisan left wing agenda. Carville says Democratic positions are more popular than Republican viewpoints. That was true in 2008, but it is certainly not the case in 2010.
A better title for this book would have been How Democrats Will Rule for Two Years, and the Euphoria Which Led To A Squandered Opportunity.