Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time To Retire It: “Reagan Democrat”.

Time To Retire It” (or TTRI) will be an occasional feature of this Blog. It will highlight words, expressions, phrases, or just “things” that, while once useful or meaningful, have outlived said meaning or are no longer applicable.

During this election season, for the first time, I’ve begun to bristle at the phrase “Reagan Democrat”. And not necessarily for political reasons.

It was coined to describe the apparent phenomenon of traditionally Democratic voters casting their votes in large numbers for Ronald Reagan in the presidential election of 1980. A phenomenon it was, as voting patterns were established that continue to this day.

However, it’s now “Time To Retire It” because, regardless of any longstanding party affiliation, if you voted Republican in 1980and have reliably voted in the same way in most elections for the past 28 years – you are not a “Reagan Democrat”… you are a Republican. And it’s time the media (and those voters themselves) recognized this.

If you comment, please be civil and politely non-partisan. This is more a commentary on our language that it is on anything political. There are plenty of other places to go for that stuff!


Chris Barat said...

Joe: The key phrase in your comment was "have reliably voted in the same way..." The phrase "Reagan Democrat" keeps coming back because many of these voters have switched back and forth between the parties depending upon how willing the Democrats were to heed their "call" for a more moderate stance. A number of them were willing to vote for "New Democrat" Bill Clinton (or for Ross Perot) but switched back when confronted with "Algore the Donkey." This year, Hillary got much of her primary support from these voters, many of whom are now wavering between Obama and McCain as they try to balance concerns about the economy with worries about national security. I think that it's still a valid phrase in that respect, provided that the "switchback" factor is noted.

Anonymous said...

Maybe "Conservative Democrat" would be more appropriate. I know a lot of moderate/centrist Democrats who would have voted for Henry Jackson over Reagan or Carter. And a lot of Democrats complain that their opinions and values haven't changed, but that the party has moved too far left. For that matter, some moderate Republicans complain that their party leaders are too far right.