Julian E. Zelizer: 'Big Tent' Already Thing of the Past





[Julian E. Zelizer is a history professor at Princeton University. He is the author of “Jimmy Carter” and editor of “The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment.”]

According to POLITICO’s John Harris, just as former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has departed from Washington, many of his congressional recruits from the class of 2006 — when he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — may soon be gone as well.

Emanuel’s strategy of recruiting more Democrats from conservative “red” districts swam against the tide of history. For almost four decades, Democrats and Republicans had been sorting themselves out ideologically, so that there were fewer moderates in either caucus....

This was a big contrast from the state of the nation’s political parties throughout much of the 20th century.

Until the 1970s, Democrats were sharply divided between Southern and Northern wings — with members from Dixie being much more conservative on matters related to race relations and unionization. The GOP had been divided between Northeastern liberals and Midwestern conservatives.

In the 1950s and 1960s, according to political scientist Sarah Binder, approximately 30 percent of House and Senate members were identified as centrists....


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John a Wilson - 10/17/2010

What Rahm and Schumer pulled off was fraud. They were tacticians charged with gaining a majority by any means possible. They promised those dumb blue dogs anything to get them in and then Pelosi ran them.

Rahm is gone for good reason. He initiated what could be the destruction of the modern democratic party and he'll fail at his mayoral run as well. Maybe he could go back to Fannie Mae for another bite of that apple.