The Midterms in History

Monday, November 08, 2010

Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and the author of Jimmy Carter: The American Presidents Series: The 39th President, 1977-81 and Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security - From World War II to the War on Terrorism, offers a historical perspective on the midterm elections.


Julian Zelizer

Comments [10]


Not denial -- cognitive dissonance. Orwell called it "doublethink": the ability to believe two diametrically opposed ideas at the same time. Or maybe they're just ignorant.

Nov. 08 2010 11:26 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

I just wanted to say hello to the Professor. I took several classes with him in the mid-1990's at SUNY Albany when I was an undergraduate. He shaped my political thinking and still to this day as I work in politics I remember some of what I learned in his classes.

Nov. 08 2010 11:25 AM

The idea that a viable political strategy is for one party to devote its entire energies to opposing and ousting the opposition is both shocking and depressing. Can the US afford 2 years of stagnation and no action? And just listen to the framing which Republicans use so successfully. Not health care reform -- health spending legislation. If the Democrats don't figure out how to use framing to their advantage they will continue to live behind the 8 ball.

Nov. 08 2010 11:25 AM
Morris from NYC

So why is there a disconnect between what people think philosophically of lesser govt, yet liking SS, medicare and food stamps. Denial?

Nov. 08 2010 11:16 AM

I think we mean too many different things by "partisanship". If we want both parties to be the same, or more similar, doesn't that undermine the notion of offering at least two distinct options for voters. Why even hold elections if we pull the two parties together? I think we mean "operating in bad faith", which can just as easily apply to moderates as partisans. Please be more specific in your language.

Nov. 08 2010 11:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The purpose of democracy is to keep divided nations together, by ballots rather than bullets. That all nation-states are divided is hardly news. What is new is DEMOCRACY, that gives divided peoples a tool enabling compromises here and there. But even in democracies, civil wars have been known to happen when the differences are too sharp to be papered over. But the democratic process is the only tool we have that can keep a nation intact despite the internal differences.

Nov. 08 2010 11:11 AM

What all these former presidents didn't have was a crippled economy like we have now. All of this bad news and uncertainty plays well for the GOP. All they have to do is nothing and blame the Dems for everything. Obama and the Dems are toast unless the economy turns around.

Nov. 08 2010 11:09 AM
Leo in NYC

The biggest favor Obama could do for himself at this point would be to appoint a David Gergen-esque figure as Chief of Staff. Someone with enough pragmatism and belief in service to work in a Democratic administration, but who will be taken seriously by congressional Republicans (as in, not Ray LaHood).

The only problem is, I don't know if such a person exists! The GOP has become so extreme that I don't know if there's any overlap between people who would serve in an Obama administration, and someone who could talk constructively with the Hill.

Nov. 08 2010 11:07 AM
newyorkita from nyc

The listener who said that Nancy Pelosi should go because she's "synonymous with a Jay Leno monologue and it's embarrassing"? Shouldn't it be embarrassing that she cares what Jay Leno thinks?

Nov. 08 2010 10:28 AM

a nation still divided.

Nov. 08 2010 09:05 AM

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