Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Smith College Republican Club holds discussion on the future of the Democratic and Republican parties

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

The Smith College Republican Club hosted a discussion Wednesday night between Smith college professors Marc Lendler and James Miller on the future of the Democratic and Republican parties following the 2016 presidential election.

Lendler is a professor of government and the author of the 2012 book “Gitlow v. New York: Every Idea an Incitement.” Miller, a professor of economics, has appeared on various Fox News programs and hosts a podcast titled “Future Strategist.”

The discussion, which was fueled by questions from the eight-person crowd, focused on how the parties have changed over the years. Both Lendler and Miller agreed that the constituencies of both parties have shifted to their respective political ideology—the Democrats to the left and Republicans to the right. As a result, the professors argued, specifically citing the Democratic party, candidates must shift their views to the left in order to win the party nomination.

“I will point out that whoever seeks national office has to fashion themselves in the interests of the constituents of the voters for their party, not the national constituents to get the nomination, but their voters and what their preferences are,” Lendler said, “and that can’t help but exert a pull of the Democrats to the left.”

Lendler continued to argue that there has been an increase in negative polarization in recent years. Negative polarization is the idea that voters of a party have a strong dislike of the opposing party rather than necessarily just a strong favorable feeling of the voter’s own party.

Later in the discussion, Miller argued that one of the reasons for the emergence of the far right “alt-right” group that came about in the recent election was due to the Democratic strategy of identity politics where the Democrats demonized those who wanted to organize based on being white.

Miller said, “One of the things [the alt-right] is starting to be is white identity politics…Four, eight years ago, you couldn’t do this without having to identify as a Nazi, but that is gradually changing…In the long run, this is going to become very detrimental to the Democratic party.”

In addition, Miller sees the issue of immigration as being harmful to the Democratic party in the short term, due to the hardline pro-immigration stance he argues the Democrats have.

Miller said, “Short term, [the issue of immigration] is going to probably be a big winner for Republicans, especially because the Democrats, they’re not allowed to say ‘well, there’s good things and bad things.’ It’s this kind of purity test…This could be a big issue the Republicans run on.”

In response to a question from a member of the audience, the possibility of the parties reversing the polarization that exists, Lendler offered a somewhat pessimistic point of view.

Lendler said, “It doesn’t seem, to me, as though there is any external force which is forcing [the parties] together.”

When asked about her thoughts on the discussion, Anna Casasco, a junior government major at Smith College, responded, “…to get a liberal education and being able to hear both [sides], I think that’s really nice.”

William Mallas can be reached at [email protected].

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    Ed Cutting, Ed.D.Nov 30, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Look at how both parties realigned after FDR took office in 1933.

  • N

    NITZAKHONNov 30, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Just remember, you can’t say “NAZI” without understanding that it stands for “National Socialist German Worker’s Party”.

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