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Moyers Has It Backwards: The US Left Surrendered Decades Ago

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 27, 2014

There’s a piece by Bill Moyers that’s making the rounds in the anti-politics left:

In a web exclusive interview, political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. talks with me about his new article in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine — a challenge to America’s progressives provocatively titled, “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals.”

In the piece, Reed writes that Democrats and liberals have become too fixated on election results rather than aiming for long-term goals that address the issues of economic inequality, and that the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama too often acquiesced to the demands of Wall Street and the right.

In other words, Reed and by implication Moyers call for the American left to do even more of what it’s already been doing since its leaders abandoned LBJ en masse over Vietnam (or as Rick Wolff thinks, since 1945): Avoid electoral politics in favor of other forms of activism.

As a result of this electoral surrender by the US left, overall voting participation has dropped and the Republicans have run riot. Here’s how that happened:

Take a look at this chart from the UCSB, bearing in mind that voter participation prior to 1920 was effectively limited to white males.  The reason for the percentage drop in 1920 is that while women nationwide now had the franchise, they were slow to exercise it; it wasn’t until 1928 that overall participation rates started to rise as more women started to vote.

As the UCSB chart shows, the last time voter participation rates were over 60% was 1968 — the height of our involvement in Vietnam.  Since then, turnout has generally declined, aside from certain years when strong third-party candidates were running (such as in 1992), or when special and successful efforts were made to increase turnout among non-white, non-rich, and non-male persons — such as in 2008, when the Obama campaign heavily pushed absentee voting, which up to then had been used mainly by Republican voters. (This is why the GOP did a 180 and is now not only against absentee voting, but any form of early voting.)

4 Responses to “Moyers Has It Backwards: The US Left Surrendered Decades Ago”

  1. jo6pac said

    “In the piece, Reed writes that Democrats and liberals have become too fixated on election results rather than aiming for long-term goals that address the issues of economic inequality, and that the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama too often acquiesced to the demands of Wall Street and the right.”

    Yep I read this to and as member of the left I didn’t drop out but have stopped voting for the lesser of 2 evils. Vote in locals and now that there are other parties at the national level I’m been voting Green. The demdogs are DOA for me they haven’t done anything for Main Street except wine (not misspelled) vote for us because the other people are Bat-S$$-Crazy and they are but that not enough for me.

  2. Charles II said

    There are two reasons for voter participation: dissatisfaction and confidence that voting can change things. Voter participation is declining for both reasons. People may not be happy, but they are complacent. And they don’t think they can change things. After 2008, when dissatisfaction and hope that politics could change things, Obama may well have created a generation that thinks that voting doesn’t matter.

    I don’t think the left has surrendered. But the left that rose in the 1960s is getting old, and no new generation excited about politics has arisen…except for those who Obama used.

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